PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Federal labor officials are seeking a restraining order to bar a North Providence doctor from retaliating against a former employee who complained that a co-worker with COVID-19 put her at risk while she was pregnant.
The Providence Journal reports that Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is seeking the restraining order against Dr. Anthony Farina Jr. and his sister, Brenda DelSignore, who manages his practices, from retaliating against the employee who was fired in January.
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court states that the firing of a receptionist was “a textbook adverse action” in violation of federal OSHA laws, and accuses the defendants of refusing to provide a termination letter needed for public assistance and facilitating phone calls to harass her.
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Farina’s lawyer, Michael Lepizzera, said his clients categorically deny the allegations and expect the complaint to be dismissed after the former employee is questioned in court, if the case gets that far.
Separately, Farina was cited by federal labor officials in June for failing to take steps to protect his medical office staff from exposure to COVID-19 even after he and other employees contracted the virus. Farina was running four medical practices: North Providence Urgent Care Inc., North Providence Primary Care Associates Inc., Center of New England Urgent Care Inc. and Center of New England Primary Care Inc.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said he “willfully exposed” his workers to the virus when he decided to continue working.
Farina was also accused of violating fair labor laws by failing to pay overtime to more than 100 employees. The newspaper reports that the new OSHA complaint comes as Farina and DelSignore are on the verge of agreeing to pay $225,000 to settle those allegations.
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The state suspended Farina’s medical license in 2021. His medical privileges were restored last month.