Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
January 23, 2018
The practice I worked for (there for 2 years - I'm a Gastroenterologist) just fired me "for cause". I'm positive this happened so the employer doesn't have to abide by my 120 without cause termination provision, and pay me any severance (I have 4 months severance in my contract). Do I have any recourse?
You very well may, completely depends on your contract. Typically "for cause" termination is clearly defined and available to the employer upon a substantial deviation of care or an action taken against your license. If neither was documented properly, you may very well be able to successfully challenge. And, the challenge mounted may not necessarily require a lawsuit be filed, although its possible the employer may not budge for less. The first step would be to engage with the employer, or employer's counsel to resolve amicably (challenge termination grounds and obtain a different outcome you find acceptable - whatever that may be).
Regardless, a "for cause" termination, as opposed to leaving without cause may have significant ramifications going forward, including, but not limited to your loss of compensation. Without reading your contract, I can't be sure there are not other triggers in there upon a "for cause" termination, other than you indicating you would not be entitled to severance. Perhaps you now have to resign hospital privileges, or you now have to pick up paying for malpractice insurance. Perhaps you have some repayment obligation to the practice... Also, an employer willing to hurt an employee this way may look to harm you in other ways - perhaps to take action to sway patients not to look for you elsewhere. Whether or not you fight for your money is not the only issue. Sometimes I would agree, lawyer-ing up is not necessary or cost-efficient; this is not one of those times. Even if you can't stomach the thought of starting a lawsuit, I recommend treading strategically here and protecting yourself.
To talk offline, email me or Taryn; I'll need to see your contract.