Khungar v. Access Community Health Network, No. 20-1958 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Dr. Khungar, a pediatrician, worked for Access. A year into her employment, in August 2015, she received a “final warning” from the regional medical director based on Khungar’s accessing of a patient’s medical file to obtain a coworker’s phone number, in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Khungar then reported an earlier incident in which the clinic manager referred to Khungar’s Indian ethnicity. in May 2016, complaints about Khungar began rolling into the Human Resources department (HR) from staff and the parents of her minor patients.
Chief Medical Officer Mejia recommended Khungar’s termination based on the nature and volume of the complaints. He later testified that he was unaware of Khungar’s race, religion, and national origin. HR ratified Mejia’s recommendation. After she was notified of the decision, Khungar asserted that her past complaints of “cultural insensitivity” had never been addressed. HR repeatedly attempted to meet with Khungar, but Khungar canceled. Khungar filed an EEOC charge. Before leaving, Khungar made statements that were perceived to be threatening, which caused HR to fire Khungar immediately and employ a security guard for several weeks.
Khungar filed suit, alleging discrimination and retaliation under Title VII. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that Khungar “cannot make out a prima facie case of discrimination.” Rhe evidence showed nondiscriminatory and nonpretextual reasons for Khungar’s termination. Khungar “failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether [her] protected activity caused her termination.”