Over the last two months, I have had three different physicians come to me with the same, neverending, story. That is, they were surprised by being summoned to go to the Human Resources
office by a very officious person. They were told that they had to report at once. Upon arriving at the office they were met with at least two lawyers/administrators and the accusations of misconduct started immediately. The subject matters were different but the goal of Human Resources was the same; that is, to threaten and terrify the employee/physician and force him/her to
sign a resignation document which also waived any rights the employee might have against the institution.
In two of the cases, the physician did sign the documents and that made for a very difficult situation as the resignation, in lieu of dismissal, was reported to the New York State Department of Health, OPMC, and the National Practitioners Data Bank. This reporting made it extremely difficult for the physician to continue on the expected career path. Also, the employment ended on that day, with no benefits to the employee.
In one case, however, the physician refused to sign the documents and that ended up in a much better place. What happened was that we were able to negotiate a settlement that did not result in any reporting by the institution. Also, the final agreement covered the physician with malpractice insurance for the balance of the year, seven months; kept his family on the institution’s health insurance program for that seven month period of time; kept in place the physician’s right to collect compensation from a previous sale of his part of the practice; allowed him to file for unemployment insurance and, finally, the institution agreed that there would be no adverse remarks about the physician should a prospective
employer enquire as to the employment situation. Within two weeks, the physician had two offers of employment with excellent terms.
So, the moral of this story seems to be clear: do not sign any documents if you are put in this extremely unpleasant situation, no matter how hard the institution’s lawyers/administrators press.
Maintain your composure and say as little as possible. Then, when that meeting is over, give your attorney a chance to negotiate a decent agreement. Sometimes you do not have to leave your employment at all as facts come to light that exonerates you, but in any case, in almost all cases the agreement you end up with will be significantly better than the result from simply signing the documents that were put in front of you.
Know your rights, and let your attorney do his/her job.