10 Potential Time Bombs in Your Employment Contract

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October 22, 2015

In This Article

7. You Might Be Fired for No Clear Reason

Employment contracts typically state that physicians could be fired "with cause," over such issues as losing their license or committing a crime. These are grounds most physicians would probably agree to, but Stadler says some contracts contain provisions much broader than that.

For example, the employer may be able to fire you with cause simply for "disruptive behavior" or for conduct "contrary to the best interests of the hospital," he says. That's the kind of language you'll want to remove from the contract, Stadler says, because it makes it possible to fire you for any reason at all. "The employer has a great deal of room to maneuver," Stadler says.

Keeping for-cause terminations to a minimum is important because they signify an egregious offense and "you have to leave immediately," Reinstein says. "It's better to be terminated without cause because it gives you time to land on your feet." For example, you'll be given a notice period during which you can continue working. In the event that your employer ever wishes to terminate you with cause, Reinstein says you should be given written notice and a chance to "cure" the problem—to address the employer's concerns and improve your conduct. "If you cured the breach, there should no longer be any reason to terminate you with cause," he says.

The contract should also address terminations that aren't for cause, Reinstein says. Say, for example, your employer doesn't have enough work for you and decides to lay you off. This could cause great hardship if you've moved to a new city for the job, bought a home, and put your kids in school, he says.

"The fundamental issue," Reinstein begins, "is that if the employer terminates you through no fault of your own, you shouldn't be penalized."

Reinstein says termination issues are a crucial part of the contract, but unfortunately, they're often not adequately reviewed.

"These can be unpleasant things to talk about," he says. "You're starting a relationship here, and it's awkward to talk about breaking up." On the other hand, he says, you can get so focused on termination that it begins to chip away at the trust you're building with your new employer.

"If you're so interested in leaving," Reinstein says, "then suddenly you're not such an attractive candidate anymore."

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