In Sabharwal v. Mount Sinai Medical Center, Queens Hospital Center, and Won Chee, the plaintiff alleged employment discrimination in that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and unlawful discrimination by not being reappointed as the Assistant Director of Anesthesia on account of age, sex and disability. The plaintiff requested production of certain records maintained by the hospital, including any peer review records regarding her performance and the personnel files of a Dr. Won Chee.
The hospital resisted on the basis that many of the documents requested were peer review documents, the confidentiality of which was protected by New York Public Health Law, Section 2805-m.
The district court ordered the production of the documents. The opinion recognized the need to balance state confidentiality law with the discovery rights granted by federal law in federal employment discrimination actions, stating that it must balance four factors:
1. The parties need for the information to enforce federal policies;
2. The importance of the state policy behind the privilege and the likelihood that recognizing the privilege will advance that policy;
3. The special needs of the party seeking the information; and
4. Any adverse impact on state policy if the privilege is not recognized.
The Court concluded that, while the state’s interest in promoting confidential peer review was important, it did not supersede the Plaintiff’s right to records with respect to her discrimination action.