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Three things psychology professionals should keep in mind about disciplinary proceedings

We’ve previously looked at how physicians are regulated in the state of Minnesota, and the role of the Board of Medicine in licensing, regulating, and disciplining physicians in this state. Just as the medical profession has a professional board to handle regulatory and disciplinary matters, so too does the profession of psychology. According to the Minnesota Board of Psychology, ensuring safe, competent and ethical provision of psychological services is its primary mission.

Under Minnesota law, those practicing in the profession of psychology are bound by the various ethical rules of conduct governing the profession, just as physicians are. These rules touch on a number of areas of practice, including client privacy, provider competence and objectivity, handling of client records, informed consent, clients’ rights, public statements about a provider’s practice, termination of services, and mandatory reporting. 

Reasons why a physical therapist could lose their license

Physical therapists can do a lot of good -- they help people recover from a variety of injuries and assist others in getting their lives back on track.

Unfortunately, therapists can sometimes find themselves in hot water with their licensing board over alleged failures to adhere to the standards of their profession. While these types of inquiries and investigations don't always lead to the loss of license, it could happen.

Building a strong discrimination case requires sound legal theory and supporting evidence, P.2

When an individual chooses to pursue an employment discrimination case, there are different theories of discrimination that can be alleged, depending on the facts of the case. In our last post, we looked at one common theory of discrimination: disparate treatment. As we noted, disparate treatment may be proven by either direct or circumstantial evidence, as the evidence allows.

Another theory of discrimination is used in cases where there is a workplace policy or practice which has a discriminatory effect on workers in a legally protected class. The theory, known as disparate impact, applies to apparently non-discriminatory workplace policies which have more of an adverse impact on one or more protected class of workers than other classes of workers. 

Building a strong discrimination case requires sound legal theory and supporting evidence, P.1

Previously, we looked briefly at an ongoing discrimination case against UMD involving several former coaches of female athletics. As we noted last time, the university wants the lawsuit thrown out based on undisputed law and facts, though the coaches have a different account of what occurred than the university.

In any discrimination case, gathering strong evidence of discrimination is critical to building a successful case. The type of evidence needed to succeed in a discrimination claim depends on the theory of discrimination the plaintiff is pursuing, which itself depends on the facts of the case. There is a fundamental difference between cases where an employer was motivated by discriminatory intent and cases where an employer was not motivated by discriminatory intent but nevertheless acted in a way that had an unfair negative impact on members of a protected class. These cases are usually distinguished by the terms disparate treatment and disparate impact. 

Minnesota company resolves two wrongful termination suits tied to financial scandal

We have previously written on this blog about the ongoing legal dispute between Minnesota hearing aid manufacturer Starkey Laboratories and former employees who accuse the company of wrongfully terminating them from their positions. Several lawsuits were filed against Starkey following the termination of numerous employees in connection with a scandal involving financial wrongdoing within the company.  

Starkey has reportedly settled two of three wrongful termination lawsuits filed in the wake of its mass firing. In both cases, the former employees accused Starkey of firing them in breach of their employment contracts. One of the employees, who was an executive assistant to the company’s former president, also accuses Starkey of discrimination on the basis of marital status. She is the wife of the company’s former human resources executive, who was charged with embezzlement, along with the former president. She based her accusations of marital status discrimination on the fact that other executive assistants who were not married to Starkey executives kept their jobs in the wake of the financial scandal. 

Former UMD sports coaches accuse university of illegal discrimination

Three former University of Minnesota Duluth sports coaches, all female, are suing the university for a total of $18 million for illegally discriminating against them. The former coaches filed the suit back in 2015, accusing the university of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and national origin.

According to the university, one of the coaches contracts was not renewed in 2014 due to poor performance and financial needs, while the other coaches voluntarily left their positions. The university is confident in its position, having filed a motion asking the court to issue a decision in its favor on the basis of undisputed evidence.

Could you lose your medical license? It's possible.

As a medical professional, such as a doctor, there is nothing worse than the thought of losing your license.

If you find yourself facing this problem, it's imperative that you learn more about your situation and take the necessary steps to fight back.

Foreign-born physicians and the problem of prejudice, discrimination

Most people are familiar with the opportunity foreign physicians have to receive medical training in the United States, and the legal allowances made to allow immigrant physicians to begin practicing medicine in this country. These allowances are an important reason foreign physicians end up in rural or otherwise underserved communities.

Despite the fact that only about one quarter of physicians in the United States are international medical graduates, they play a critical role in the provision of health care in this country, particularly in communities where they may not fit in very well. This is all the more true in light of a fairly recent study showing that immigrant physicians may provide superior care than homegrown medical graduates. 

Work with experienced advocate to ensure accurate information in complaint review process

Communication is important in any relationship, and the doctor-patient relationship is no different. When patients feel their physician is transparent with them and has their best interests at heart, the provision of health care typically goes more smoothly. Not only are health outcomes usually better, but patients are less likely to sue for medical malpractice in the event something does go wrong.

Ideally, physicians are able to effectively communicate and have great rapport with their patients, though not every physician has this skill to the same extent. And, of course, some patients are more difficult to care for than others. When there is a communication breakdown—and this can be difficult to avoid in some cases—physicians hopefully have resources to fall back on so that they can effectively manage the relationship and resolve and misunderstandings and disputes.

Addressing mental illness, substance abuse issues in the physician discipline process

Last time, we looked briefly at the how the heavy emphasis state medical boards place on mental health and substance abuse history in the licensing of physicians may be prompting physicians with these struggles to keep quiet about them and avoid seeking help. We also mentioned that, in some cases, the way state medical boards treat these matters may be illegal under federal law.

Mental illness and substance abuse can serve not only as a basis for denying or limiting licensure, but also for discipline of already licensed physicians. Under Minnesota law, when it is determined that a physician is mentally incompetent, mentally disabled, mentally ill, or chemically dependent, there will be an automatic suspension of that person’s medical license unless the medical board decides that there are mitigating factors that warrant different treatment.

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