Arizona medical board workers claim illegal firing

PHOENIX - We've known for weeks that lawsuits against the Arizona Medical Board were in the works.

One lawsuit has already been filed.

On Tuesday, we got confirmation of an additional five notices of claim by former employees, saying they were wrongfully terminated for speaking out about doctors not getting proper background checks.

Collectively, they are asking for $5 million worth of lost wages, retirement benefits, even mental anguish.

The medical board says the claims are being reviewed by their attorneys.

David Lunn is an attorney representing several of the employees, including Eric Evans, who says his firing was completely unexpected.

"It's not something I saw coming at all. I was praised for my work. I had recommendations," said Evans. "I was told I was doing a great job. I went into work the next day and I was gone."

Eric came to us back in February when we first began to look into claims that the board was fast tracking doctors' licenses without doing proper background checks.

We now have even more insight into the workers' allegations.

In one instance, a former licensing manager says he was told repeatedly that "the rules don't matter."

He says he was later denied a promotion.

Another claim suggests that former executive director Lisa Wynn, and former deputy director Amanda Diehl, forced faster license approval in order to gain recognition in the national medical community, and gain financial opportunities.

Last month, Wynn was fired by the board.

It happened after a scathing report by a state panel saying that she and the board broke dozens of laws by not performing certain background checks for doctors applying for licenses.

If an agreement is not reached on the five new claims, official lawsuits will be filed.

The big question is, where will the money come from to pay for any settlement?

Lunn says the money would most likely come from the medical board's coffers which are funded by doctor's fees.

But depending on the settlement amount, some could also involve state money to pay off the claims.

On Wednesday, there's a joint legislative hearing with the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and House Committee on Health, to discuss the medical board issues.

State lawmakers will be seeking answers from the board.

The committee will hear from the ombudsman about its scathing report. And there'll be a lot of attention on how licenses are being handled now.
    
State Senator Nancy Barto who chairs the committee says, they won't make recommendations Wednesday.
    
But, this could be a first step towards changing the way the medical board operates.

I'll be inside hearing and will have a full report.

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