You have completed the job search, signed your contract and you are now happily employed. Days, weeks, and months go by without a single problem between you and your employer. You feel as though your current practice situation could not be any more perfect. However, what happens if that changes, and you as a physician feel that your employer has violated the terms of your employment contract? Maybe you weren’t given the productivity compensation you were promised or you were forced to cover a geographic area in which you didn’t want to work. There are a number of common disputes that can come up between physicians and employers. Here we will detail some of the keys to successfully resolving a contract dispute.
When an employer does not deliver on something they initially promised in your contract, it can be a very frustrating experience. It may be natural to want to respond in anger and express openly just how irritated you are with an employer. Maybe you feel like you should make your allegations public or refuse some of your typical duties in order to retaliate. Unfortunately, letting your frustration get the best of you is detrimental to the likelihood of you coming out on top of your contract dispute.
Remaining calm and professional is important because most likely the hospital or practice will be willing to work with you to come up with a solution. After all, you are an essential part of that organization’s success. However, if you refuse to maintain a positive relationship with your employer from the start, they will be less likely to empathize with your standpoint. The focus will no longer be on creating the best outcomes, but on your unprofessional actions.
Examine the Contract
Make sure that the point in your contract that you are disputing actually says what you believe it does. Not understanding or misinterpreting the terms of contract is actually a pretty common scenario and one that can be avoided by looking closely at the terms and seeking professional help.
Some typical misunderstandings include not knowing when you are allowed to terminate your employment or what the geographic limitations of a non-compete agreement are after you have left a job. Once you have decided that you have a legitimate dispute with your employer, you need to meet the proper administrative staff to have an in-person discussion.
Be Open to Discussion
Allowing for a discussion of your contract before taking more serious measures can be a very helpful step in resolving your issue. You first need to make sure you are speaking with someone in your organization’s management who has oversight of your contract terms. Once you have identified the correct hospital official, prepare an outline and obtain the necessary documentation to support your stance before you meet. Have an idea of how you want the conversation to go and come with some potential solutions, such as amendments to your contract.
Try not to escalate the conversation until you can see that you and the official are just not going to be able to come to a mutual solution. If this is the case and you leave the meeting with little to no progress, you need to decide whether it is worth continuing your dispute or leaving the situation altogether.
Write a Letter
Consider writing a letter to administration to clarify your stance and really press the issue so those that oversee your contract can see that you are serious. Again, stay professional in communicating your concerns and have an attorney review the letter before you submit it. This will help you utilize the correct legal terminology and lend a sense of seriousness to your dispute.
If your letter does not receive the attention and action that you require, then you can have your attorney send a breach-of-contract letter or a cease-and-desist letter.
Consider a Lawsuit
If every other attempt at successfully resolving your dispute has failed, then it is probably time to consider legal action. This can be a huge step, and one you need to take very seriously. Legal proceedings can cost thousands of dollars and take months or even years to conclude. Additionally, lawsuits are very public, and may harm your image to the public or with future employers if the legal action makes its way into Internet search results.
Remember that the hospitals you will be going up against are well-funded and as such can usually weather the legal storm longer than you can as an individual. A healthcare attorney will try to make sure that you don’t reach this point, but if you do, make sure that the dispute is worth the effort and time.
Resolve Your Dispute
When you encounter a discrepancy between your contract terms and your employment you should remain calm, collected and professional. Remember that pursuing legal action is the last resort in resolving your contract dispute. Being open to discussion and mutual solutions can go a long way in saving you money, time and effort.
However, you should always consult a physician contract attorney, like Resolve, to ensure you have legitimate grounds to dispute the contract before bringing it up with your employer. Resolve can review your employment agreement within 48 hours, consult with you on what action to take and handle the dispute with your current employer on your behalf. Get started with Resolve by calling 877-758-3318 or filling out this short form.