Pharmacists fight back: Age discrimination lawsuits in retail pharmacy

April 1, 2015

Drug Topics readers had plenty to say about our recent article on metrics used against older pharmacists. So did readers of The Cynical Pharmacist, when they got wind of it. Here's a sample.

The other day Drug Topics published an article that asked, “Are CVS’ metrics unfairly eliminating older pharmacists?” That’s what four former CVS pharmacists think.They are now suing the retail giant in U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

 Drug Topics has received several comments about this article from readers, and so did The Cynical Pharmacist, a well-known pharmacy blogger and Drug Topics contributor, when he posted a comment from a Drug Topics reader that evoked a strong reaction from his readers.

Here’s a sample of what your fellow pharms are saying:

At Facebook.com/TheCynicalPharmacist

See also: Are CVS’ metrics unfairly eliminating older pharmacists?

Bad sign for pharmacy

“The funny thing about company spokesmen is they don't deal in reality. That's the only way one can explain this:

“‘A CVS spokesman, Michael DeAngelis, said the allegations have no merit and that CVS intends to vigorously defend against them. “Like other companies, we measure the quality and effectiveness of the services we provide to ensure we are meeting our customers’ expectations and helping them to achieve the best possible health outcomes,” DeAngelis said. “Our systems are designed to help our pharmacists manage and prioritize their work to best serve their patients.’”’

“Vigorously defend? 
Services we provide? Like accurate prescription filling over speed and convenience?

“This is a bad sign for pharmacy from the Company that Values Shareholders.”

13 hours without a break

“South Carolina has a 2:1 tech:pharmacist ratio, with state-certified techs not counting against the ratio. And yet, the demand of my store tells me I need 5-6 techs at peak hours. See the problem/illegality of this one, CVS? (Especially when the one pharmacist is working 13 hours without a break, on top of that.)”

All about the metrics

“CVS is all about using the metrics to make sure you are on point. They use it for tech hours and punishing workers when sales and quotas aren’t met.”

Unachievable metrics

“So glad I bailed! My priority was the right Rx to the right patient, and answer questions they had. Their priority was just unachievable metrics, unless you happened to be a low-volume store or donated your own free time.”

Basic human rights violated

“If I think even just a little about what retail pharmacists have to suffer, I get extremely sad. I used to work retail and for one of the better companies. It was awful that basic human rights, such as using the bathroom and eating, are violated under the guise of the salary we earn.

“We earn the salary because of our knowledge, qualifications, and education. Our salaries are not given as trade for our personal and physical humiliation. The emotional distress of choosing between giving quality care and meeting company expectations is real.”

Defeated and invalidated

“It's unfortunate that now I'm planning to pursue legal consultation due to my improper termination. And I was awarded the Distinguished Young Pharmacist award with the ‪New Jersey Pharmacists Association (NJPhA) last year. I've never felt more defeated and invalidated.”

 

At drugtopics.com

See also: Metrics: How not to practice pharmacy

Failure to drive business results

“I can present the write-ups that led to the termination of my partner (who was about 60) and me (nearly 40). The write-ups specifically say, and I quote, ‘on performance warning for failing to exhibit the ability to deliver and drive various business results. Some of which include PCI (AO, NSPU) KPM and Service targets.’ This write-up was copied and pasted by my DM three times. I was explicitly told to my face that they have a big line of new grads willing to take my job. Moreover, according to my DM, running a store dispensing 400-500 prescriptions per day with 1 pharmacist and 1-2 techs is perfectly fine, as long as you can manage your techs.”

It happened to me

“This happened to me back in August of last year. The exact scenario is happening in West Virginia. Now working for Kroger and the world of pharmacy is much better.”

Horrendous staffing levels

“Staffing levels are horrendous! This leads to errors and poor customer service. They only care about bottom line. I am proud these pharmacists came forward with their legal action.”

Forced me to sign

“The same unfair criminal practice happened to me back in Las Vegas 2010. The vice president of operations for the whole district made up a special metric system just for me because I questioned in a big meeting when he announced that all pharmacist are expected to -on their days off - go out, for no reimbursement, procure and work to generate flu shot clinics, saying it was part of the job description when we got hired.

“He then forced me to sign a special document that no other RPh had to sign, saying I had to meet metrics of 95% across the board, and that I was going to be reevaluated every two weeks. And if I did not meet those metrics, I would then be rated as ‘not meeting expectations.’

“I got hold of HR, which got the document dismissed. But I was forced to quit anyway, because superiors started coming in once a week and writing me up, for example, for a ‘dirty sink’ that had a few smudges.

“Doing more than 600 Rxs a day as well as immunizing, with no overlap coverage, and then they cut my tech grid weekly from 325 hours to 175, a 20% reduction every week. Unfair labor practices permeate this whole organization.”

If you have a story - good, bad, or in-between - that you want to share with your fellow pharms, or a solution to propose, send it to drugtopics@advanstar.com for inclusion in an upcoming article.