Law

Harris County Public Health doctor fired for distributing vaccines about to expire sues for wrongful termination

HOUSTON — A former Harris County Public Health doctor from Pakistan alleges he faced discrimination and wrongful termination for distributing left over COVID-19 vaccines that were about to expire. 

Hasan Gokal filed a complaint Sept. 21 in Harris County District Court against Harris County Texas doing business as Harris County Public Health alleging discrimination. 

According to his complaint, Gokal joined Harris County Public Health in April of 2020 and coordinated the county’s COVID-19 testing, contract tracing, transmission surveillance, vaccinations and epidemiology and served as medical advisor for the COVID-19 rollout. He alleges that he was fired on Jan. 7, 2021, after taking the remaining 10 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that were left when an immunization site in Lyndsay Lyons Park shut down. 

He claims he traveled to various homes also inoculated individuals at his home who were “at risk” and that the last dose that was about to expire was given to his wife who has a significant underlying health condition. Gokal alleges he was told by his supervisor that he did not “equitably distribute the vaccine” and administered the vaccine to “too many people with ‘Indian’ sounding names” and should have instead thrown the vaccines away. He further alleges he faced a criminal investigation which was dropped, was falsely accused of stealing vaccines and faced the potential loss of his medical license. 

Gokal seeks monetary relief of more than $1 million, interest, trial by jury and all other just relief. He is represented by Joseph Ahmad and Michael Killingsworth of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing PC in Houston. 

Harris County District Court case number 2021-60942

Written by  Marian Johns

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