The former office manager of a Mamaroneck dental practice claims she was fired for questioning fraudulent billing practices.
Edith Pirinea is demanding $125,000 from Dr. Daniela Hijazin and Westchester Dental P.C. for retaliation under the federal False Claims Act, in a June 8 complaint filed in U.S. District Court, White Plains.
Dr. Hijazin did not respond to an email requesting her side of the story.
Pirinea, of New Rochelle, claims that for more than 20 years she was “forced” to submit Medicaid insurance claims for more expensive procedures than were actually done, “so that there would be a larger return of money.”
Medicaid providers, she says, “sent letters questioning … as to why there were so many claims being sent for the same coding.”
“Occasionally” over the years she questioned the billing practices, she says, and after her last objection in March 2020, Dr. Hijazin became critical of her work and then fired her in June 2020.
She argues that the timing of her objection and the dismissal indicate unlawful retaliation.
Pirinea also claims that Dr. Hijazin had agreed to compensate her for working after-hours on a marketing plan that brought in many more patients to the dental practice. But despite working more than 20 extra hours a week, according to the complaint, she was not paid any overtime wages.
Pirinea accused Dr. Hijazin of retaliation and overtime wage violations under federal and state laws. She is demanding $125,000 for back pay, front pay, emotional distress and other damages.
The complaint also singles out the dentist’s husband, Eyad Hijazin, a medical doctor who operates two businesses out of the same building as the dental practice, at 444 East Boston Post Road.
Allied Healthcare Physicians is a primary care, psychiatry, family medicine and pediatrics practice. Her Secret MedSpa offers cosmetic surgeries and spa services.
Pirinea claims that Dr. Eyad Hijazin would send assistants to nursing homes and “bill out patients as having MD supervision as though he were there seeing them in person.”
Though Dr. Eyad Hijazin is named as a defendant in the complaint, no specific violations of law or demands for relief are lodged against him.
Dr. Eyad Hijazin did not respond to an email asking for his side of the story.
Manhattan attorney Leo Jacobs represents Pirinea.