Physician Employment Contract Review
Dolley Law, LLC regularly provides employment contract review services for doctors and other health care professionals. Physicians are often presented with an employment agreement to sign following completion of residency or when offered a new position or role with a health care organization or venture.
In reviewing any proposed employment agreement, we take the time to listen to your goals, needs, and plans so that we know what terms of the agreement you should think about most and where you should focus your request(s) for modifications. While contracts cannot account for every possible contingency, our consultations are comprehensive and the feedback and guidance we provide is detailed and tailored to your situation.
Establishing an appropriate contract with a new employer is undoubtedly important. Physicians must understand the provisions of any proposed employment agreement and whether changes should be requested to ensure that the contract terms are reasonable and fair to the physician. A particular contract may not provide all the protections that a physician should reasonably expect as standard within the health care field, such as ensuring appropriate tail coverage following the end of the employment relationship and having robust and clear terms regarding the rights and obligations of the parties in relation to the termination of the employment relationship. Proposed employment agreements for physicians will often not only have several exhibits, addenda, or schedules attached to them, but also will incorporate by reference many other employment policies, benefits plans, and other documents that are not attached to them as rules that may limit or qualify the parties’ respective rights and duties under the employment agreement itself.
One of the most important provisions of any physician employment agreements is the term describing when, how and why either party may terminate the contract. The reality is that there is always a possibility that there may be a need to end an employment relationship prior to the end of the agreement. This may be because the employment relationship may not be a good fit, there are substantial disagreements about a workplace matter, or personal circumstances change. We understand life happens and the future is often, if not always, unpredictable. Nonetheless, it is critical for all physicians considering an employment agreement to thoroughly think through the termination provision in relation to their personal circumstances. Often these contracts will spell out, to some extent, when they can be terminated “with cause” or “for cause,” as opposed to “without cause,” and what the different rights and obligations of the parties are in each situation. But physician employment agreements vary greatly in terms of the level of specificity used in detailing what constitutes “cause” and what does not. A lack of detail in these provisions may lead to avoidable and costly disputes over their meaning. It is critical to minimize that risk (and others).
Physician employment agreements have many other significant provisions that will impact a physician’s rights, obligations and potential liabilities, even after his or her employment ends, such as post-employment restrictive covenants (e.g., non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, etc.), severance terms, notice provisions, insurance coverage, continuing education, and a wide variety of compensation-related terms (including but not limited to terms and conditions related to base salary, bonuses, and other incentive programs or benefits plans for which you may be eligible).
Having reviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of physician employment agreements, the attorneys at our Firm know where to look and what to propose to make employment agreements fairer to physicians. We understand the devil is in the details and will assist you in making specific, deliberate edits to such termination terms in order to make sure that your best interests as a professional are protected to the greatest extent practicable. Whether it is an issue of how the working relationship is classified (e.g., W-2 or 1099), the nature and scope of hospital privileges, or the circumstances under which a physician may moonlight, we know what is reasonable and fair in the current marketplace. Our extensive experience representing physicians and other licensed health care professionals gives us key insight into how to edit or re-structure a contract in order to protect your interests in the event a dispute arises. With this knowledge, we can help you navigate and negotiate any physician employment agreement, regardless of its length or complexity.
If you are a physician and have been offered an employment agreement, contact attorney Kevin J. Dolley directly at 314.645.4100 or by email at Kevin@dolleylaw.com.