Harrisburg pharmacist sues CVS Caremark, alleging staff cuts endanger patients

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo, pedestrians walk past a CVS store in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

 A Harrisburg pharmacist has sued drug store chain CVS Caremark in federal court in Harrisburg, alleging that the company discriminated against him because he had multiple sclerosis and endangered patients by cutting staff to unsafe levels.

Joseph Zorek, whose suit is here, said in the court filing that he began working for the company, or its predecessors, in 1968. The suit says Zorek was a "Pharmacist - in - Charge/Team Leader ('PIC')" at the store in Harrisburg until being forced out last year.

Zorek, who has multiple sclerosis, said in suit that CVS violated the American With Disabilities Act for years by insisting he use a lift chair not meant for long-term sitting.

As the team leader, Zorek typically worked 50 to 60 hours per week, and supervised four staff pharmacists and 21 pharmacy technicians, according to he suit. In 2010 and 2011, that 24-hour pharmacy dispensed approximately 4,200 prescriptions per week, more than any other CVS store in its sales district.

"In an effort to increase profits, defendants cut the number of pharmacy technician hours" nearly 20 percent, according to the suit. Zorek says he informed his supervisor that "cutting the pharmacy staff in the area’s busiest pharmacy, in which the volume of prescriptions dispensed continued to increase year - over - year, would likely endanger patient safety."

After the cuts, Zorek said in his suit, the pharmacy technicians were under greater time pressure, which resulted in "pharmacy technicians making a greater number of mistakes in labeling and filling prescriptions."

CVS Caremark spokesman Michael DeAngelis told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the suit, that the company would fight Zorek's suit.

"The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure prescription safety," DeAngelis said, according to the Journal.