OTTAWA — A senior Health Canada analyst who reviews drugs before they go on the public market is suing his boss for allegedly branding him, in writing, as mentally unstable and potentially violent after he opposed the government’s policy on labelling hormone drugs for men.
Dr. Thaddeus Yarney’s troubles began when he argued against a Health Canada director’s alleged policy to strike andropause (male menopause) as a condition that stems from testosterone drugs.
The reproductive endocrinologist had what others described as a prestigious and unblemished career for 25 years until 2005, when he started reporting to a new boss, the claim states.
“It was at this point that issues … became apparent …. In a number of meetings that took place (Yarney) expressed opinions regarding andropause which were not received favourably by his superiors,” according to the defamation lawsuit filed against Barbara Rotter, his director.
The strain hit an all-time high during a “particularly contentious discussion between (Yarney) and management in October 2005 which took place in front of pharmaceutical representatives,” according to the statement of claim filed in Ottawa court.
After that meeting, the lawsuit says, he was issued a reprimand letter saying he “had been insubordinate and had challenged management’s authority.”
Then, after not backing down from his position, the statement of claim says Yarney was issued poor performance reviews and branded a security risk.
None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.
Yarney was later terminated from a reviewer position and reassigned, according to the claim. He was then suspended six times — including for refusing to attend a meeting.
On Jan. 25, 2008, the statement of claim alleges, two highly unusual letters were put in his personnel file. The letters, said to be drafted by Barbara Rotter, questioned Yarney’s mental health and required him to be assessed by a physician, who later concluded there was nothing wrong with Yarney, according to the claim.
The statement also cites several passages in the letter, including one statement that says of Yarney that “there is concern that this behaviour may become more violent and unpredictable.”
The words “are damaging to Yarney’s reputation and have “greatly impact(ed) his ability to move forward in his career and maintain the respect of his supervisors and co-workers,” according to the statement of claim.
“As a result of the (Rotter) letters, the plaintiff has suffered damages, including but not limited to damages to his reputation, financial loss and loss of future income,” the claim states.
Yarney, who is still employed by Health Canada, declined to comment.
Federal government lawyers, on behalf of Rotter, last week filed a notice of intent to defend the lawsuit.
Lawyers have yet to file a statement of defence against the $600,000 defamation lawsuit.