Former London hospital CEO files $2.5M lawsuit after being fired for traveling to the U.S.

Former LHSC president and CEO Dr. Paul Woods. Supplied photo

After being terminated as CEO of the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) on Monday, Dr. Paul Woods has filed a $2.5-million lawsuit.

Woods was let go from his position by the hospital board after news broke last week that he had made five trips to visit family in the United State during the pandemic despite public health recommendations urging people not to travel.

Global News obtained a copy of the statement of claim from Woods’s lawyer Michael Wright.

In the statement of claim, Woods is seeking $1.4 million for “the bad faith termination” in the amount equal to his base salary, performance-based compensation, benefits, and pension for the period from Jan. 10, 2021 to Jan. 14, 2023.

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He is also seeking a declaration that the defendants defamed him, an additional $1 million in damages for loss of reputation, $100,000 for breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code, and coverage of all legal expenses.

Woods also claims he informed board chair Amy Walby of his proposed travel plans and that he had her approval.

The board had said Friday that it was “aware Dr. Woods continued to travel for personal reasons given the separation from his immediate family.”

In Monday’s statement, the board clarified that while it was “aware of Dr. Woods’s personal circumstances,” it was not given advanced notice of, nor did it approve, Woods’ travel outside of Canada.

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The statement of claim also includes copies of emails in which Walby responded to Woods’s plans to go to the U.S. by saying:

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“I think it is reasonable to afford some ability to see loved ones at the cost of working remotely for 2 weeks, as long as it is not too frequent. One visit every two months seems to hit the mark as a (painful) compromise. I support what you need to do on this. I don’t think the Board needs to approve but we can give them a heads up.”

Woods, who is a Canadian citizen also holds permanent residency status in the United States.

The statement of claim said none of Woods’s immediate family resides in London, Ont., including his fiance, daughter and former spouse, who all live in Michigan.

On March 21, 2020, when the federal governments of Canadian and the United States restricted all non-essential travel across the land border, the statement said that Woods, as a permanent resident of the U.S., was exempt from that restriction and that he did not take that decision “lightly.”

Global News has reached out to the LHSC for comment on this story.

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