Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink met today in Miami to record a debate for Univision, which will air at 11 p.m. tonight, and each gubernatorial campaign blasted out press releases in an attempt to spin the results in their favor. One release sent by the Scott campaign purports to set the record straight on Solantic, the chain of walk-in clinics Scott founded after his controversial tenure at Columbia/HCA, a hospital chain that was eventually fined $1.7 billion for defrauding Medicare.
Unfortunately, in a portion of the release dealing with a series of lawsuits filed against Solantic, the Scott email misleadingly cites reporting done for Salon.com by The Florida Independent’s Tristram Korten.
“Scott Was Not Mentioned in the Suit,” reads the headline of the segment in question, before offering this quote from Korten’s Salon.com report: “Rick Scott Was Not Mentioned In Any Of The Complaints.” That quote (which Scott’s release does not link to) specifically refers to lawsuits filed in 2006 by former Solantic employees who claimed they were fired because they did not want to enforce discriminatory hiring practices at the company.
Scott, though, was indeed named in a lawsuit filed by Solantic’s first medical director, David Yarian. Here is how Korten characterized Yarian’s complaint in a feature for The Florida Independent:
In [his four months at Solantic], Yarian claims, Scott told him not to hire overweight women as a rule, and specifically prohibited him from hiring a qualified nurse because she was slightly overweight; told him not hire anyone of Middle Eastern descent after 9/11 because they might scare away customers; and prohibited Yarian from hiring a Hispanic male nurse candidate who had an accent because he was not “mainstream American.” Later, Yarian says, Scott repeated that directive. “He said in a meeting with all the other staff that the people we hire for our centers have to be mainstream American,” Yarian recalls.
Yarian, who is married to an African-American woman, says he complained in an email to Scott that the hiring procedures could be considered discriminatory. He says he was told not to communicate with Scott anymore, and was fired a short time later. Yarian sued the company over his severance payout, and included his allegations in the lawsuit. Solantic settled with him for about $80,000 in 2002.