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Employer Legal Trouble, Way out of RC?

         July 21, 2015
 
Question:

Jennifer,
 
My employer is the practice owner and the only other physician in the practice.  Over the past year, he has been in legal trouble and may be at risk of having his license suspended.  Additionally, his behavior is erratic and his medical decision making is becoming more and more suspect, which is seriously jeopardizing our referral base and is driving our PA’s to quit (increasing my workload).  At this point I would really prefer to break away and start my own practice.  However, my non-compete agreement will then come into play.  Any thoughts on a way out here, especially if his license to practice is suspended?
 
Thanks,
 
Dr. C


Answer:
 
Sounds like a bad situation.  Your employer may be ready to part ways with the practice, or you.  My first inclination is to suggest speaking with the employer about a way out - maybe you can buy your way out of the RC for de minimus money or possibly purchase assets of the practice (including rights to the office) from the employer.  You would not want to buy the practice itself in a stock or interest transfer because it sounds as though they may be potential liability there, which you would not want to transfer with the space, assets and records.  

If you are not interested in having a discussion, and you elect to violate, you may be quickly staring down a lawsuit, including potentially an injunction looking to restrict your ability to practice.  Now, if your employer's license is revoked, his/her ability to enforce the restriction may be impacted, as there may not be an enforceable right to protect against by enforcing the RC.  If your employer's livelihood is not being threatened, he/she would be hard pressed to argue you are infringing on that right. I'd be interested to see how that argument would play out in court.    
 
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