Former President and CEO of London Health Sciences Center (LHSC) Dr. Paul Woods, has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the hospital, claiming he was fired in bad faith.
A statement issued by LHSC Monday morning, indicated that Dr. Woods was released from his role as President and CEO after he admitted to making several trips to the US during the pandemic.
"While the Board was aware of Dr. Woods' personal circumstances, it had no advance notice of and did not approve his travel outside Canada. There is no process for the Board of a public hospital to approve a chief execute officer's personal travel.”
In the lawsuit, Dr. Woods claims he advised the Chair of the Board Amy Walby, a few times in writing about his travel plans to the United States to see immediate family and to self-quarantine after and work from home.
Woods claims he sought Walby’s guidance in an August 2020 email, and specifically asked if the issue should be raised with the rest of the Board: “Is this something I should bring to the Board? If I went every two months for a week, it would mean I would have to WFH (work from home) for a total of three weeks.”
According to the claim, on Thursday, August 6, 2020, Ms. Walby responded as follows: “I support what you need to do on this. I don’t think the Board needs to approve but we can give them a heads up.”
Prior to this, on Tuesday June 16, 2020, Dr. Woods also claims in his lawsuit he contacted Ms. Walby in writing and she responded as follows:
“I appreciate the heads up on your need to travel to the US and the plan to self-isolate as required thereafter, and comfortable that it fits into existing policy re WFH (work from home) for leaders. I am doubly comfortable that you can effectively fulfill your work responsibilities from home, as has been fully and completely (to borrow from the Hip) demonstrated.”
Michael Wright, Dr. Woods’ lawyer tells CTV that he accepts responsibility for the decisions he made to travel to be with his immediate family, but the hospital’s suggestion that he travelled without their knowledge or approval, is false.
“The January 11, 2021 statement by LHSC that the Board had no advance notice of and did not approve Dr. Woods’ travel outside of Canada was inaccurate and created a false impression that Dr. Woods was less than candid and forthright with the Board, when in fact he was completely transparent.”
"The Board issued this statement to preserve its own reputation at the expense of Dr. Woods’ reputation. It did so knowingly and deliberately and that this conduct was malicious and has caused him damage," said Wright.
In the Statement of Claim obtained by CTV News, Dr. Woods is claiming $1 million in general damages for "loss of reputation" $1.4 million in salary, pension and benefits in his contract through to January 2023.
He is also seeking an additional $100,000, claiming the hospital breached sections of the Ontario Human Rights Code, "by discriminating against him on the basis of family status."
The statement was filed on January 13 and includes allegations not yet tested in court.
According to the statement of claim, none of Dr. Woods’ immediate family live in the city of London, Ontario. Dr. Woods’ immediate family primarily resides in the state of Michigan in the United States. This includes Dr. Woods’ fiancée, daughter, and former spouse.
We have reached out to LHSC and Amy Walby for comment, but have not received a response.