Even Brain Surgeons Make Dumb Decisions

Jay Schindler may be a neurosurgeon, but that didn’t stop him from making a bonehead move in his relations with his employer, Regional Health Physicians (RHP), in South Dakota.

RHP hired Schindler to practice neurosurgery.  Two years later, he developed various back-related physical issues that interfered with his ability to perform surgery.  RHP took steps to accommodate him so that he could operate, but eventually RHP told him it planned to suspend his surgery privileges except for emergency cases.  Before that happened, Dr. Schindler took a voluntary 60-day leave of absence from all surgical privileges.

That’s when RHP fired him.  He sued for wrongful termination and various related causes, including failure to give notice and an opportunity to cure.  But, as a federal court ruled on September 23, his employment contract specified that RHP could immediately terminate him upon “suspension, revocation, or loss of hospital privileges.”  So when he suspended his own privileges, he gave RHP grounds for immediate termination, and RHP exercised that right.

The case is Schindler v. Regional Health Physicians, CIV 13-5027-JLV (D. N.Dak.).

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