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Looking at the relationship between medical malpractice and physician discipline, P.3

We’ve been looking in recent posts at the relationship, or at least the potential relationship, between medical malpractice litigation and physician discipline. As we noted, a physician’s failure to abide by minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice can serve as grounds for both malpractice liability and discipline, depending on the circumstances.

One interesting point to note is that, unlike medical malpractice cases involving unprofessional conduct, no actual injury to a patient needs to be established in the disciplinary process when unprofessional conduct is involved. It would be enough to establish the breach of medical practice standards.

Looking at the relationship between medical malpractice and physician discipline, P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at a recent medical malpractice case resulting in a massive jury verdict, and asked the question of how medical malpractice litigation relates to physician discipline. Although medical malpractice and physician discipline are two separate issues, handled in different forums, there certainly can be a close relationship between the two processes.

The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, of course, has the authority to license and discipline physicians, and state law identifies various grounds upon which the medical board is able to take disciplinary action. The relationship between medical malpractice and physician discipline can be particularly close when the underlying actions or omissions of the physician constitute both medical malpractice and serve as grounds for professional discipline. 

Looking at the relationship between medical malpractice and physician discipline

Medical malpractice, unfortunately, is one of the risks and challenges physicians have to deal with in their practice, and the potential liability from malpractice claims can be significant. It can also have a significant impact on a physician’s career.

A Hennepin County medical malpractice verdict of $9.1 million delivered earlier this month was reportedly one of the largest in recent history in Minnesota. The case was brought by a man who was left with spinal cord damage and paralysis back in 2012 from a botched surgery at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

Looking at federal, state equal pay protection laws, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the federal Equal Pay Act, which requires employers to pay equal wage rates to employees who perform essentially equal work. Employees who have been unfairly subjected to unequal pay on the job, by law, are able to seek relief by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which administers and enforces the law.

If the commission finds that an employer has violated the law, the complainant may be entitled to unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime compensation, as the case may be, as well as liquidated damages.  It may also be possible, depending on the case, to have a court order employment, reinstatement, promotion, or payment of lost wages. Working with an experienced attorney in the EEOC complaint process can help ensure one has strong representation throughout the process and that appropriate remedies are sought. 

MN school district settles unequal pay case, but still avoids taking responsibility for violation

We’ve been looking in recent posts at the topic of equal pay protections under both federal and state law. Under the Minnesota law, as we mentioned, employers may not bypass the equal pay requirement by securing agreements with employees to receive a lower wage than other workers who perform essentially equal work. Another important point to mention is that the law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for filing a complaint or for providing testimony in an investigation, proceedings, or a criminal action under the law.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently settled a case with the Montevideo School District over allegations that a female custodial aide was underpaid for work that was equal to that of a male custodian. The settlement amounted to $50,000, which will go to the employee. This is what the female would have been paid had she been paid at the same wage rate as her male worker who performed the same kind of work. 

Looking at federal, state equal pay protection laws, P.1

One of the big issues in the workplace today is pay equality between the sexes. Although there are equal pay protections on the books, many believe these protections don’t go far enough and want to see additional measures put in place.

The issue has been discussed in the context of the current presidential campaign, with Hillary Clinton pushing for updates to the federal Equal Pay Act so that employers could be punished for retaliating against workers who share their salary information. The proposal has been called the Paycheck Fairness Act, the proponents of which argue that the federal Equal Pay Act doesn’t do enough to allow women to determine whether they are receiving fair pay for their work in comparison to other employees.   

Diversity promotion and affirmative action: employers must walk the line, P.2

Last time, we noted that employers should be cautious about adopting diversity promotion policies which could be characterized as affirmative action. While affirmative action certainly can be legal, such policies must be crafted and implemented to ensure they don’t create other legal problems.  

First of all, employers may be required to adopt affirmative action policies in some circumstances, such as: when a court orders it after a finding of discrimination; when it is required by law; or when it is negotiated as a remedy in litigation. Then there are also situations where employers are allowed to adopt affirmative action policies of their own initiative. 

Diversity promotion and affirmative action: employers must walk the line, P.1

In our last post, we began looking at the situation faced by Airbnb regarding discrimination against its guests. As we noted last time, the company is on record as stating that its own failure to promote a culture of diversity may be part of why it has been slow to address bias against its guests. Promoting diversity within is somewhat of a challenge for technology companies, but Airbnb’s newly established efforts in this area are certainly a step in the right direction.

Voluntary promotion of a racially inclusive workplace and the promotion of a culture of respect for ethnic differences can, of course, be effective means of battling discrimination. Diversity promotion certainly can be legal under federal law, particularly in situations where the employer changes its hiring practices to ensure that it minimizes the disparate impact on any racial group or works to expand the applicant pool for a disadvantaged race. 

Airbnb faces potential legal issues for hosts’ racial bias against guests

Many of our readers have heard of the company Airbnb, which is an online marketplace allowing people to list and rent vacation homes. The San Franciscio-based company has recently been in the news regarding allegations of racial discrimination or bias against guests. The allegations were confirmed in a 90-day study conducted by a company advisor.

In response to the study, the company’s CEO announced changes in company policy earlier this month which are aimed at addressing the findings of discrimination in its home rental service. These changes include things like: de-emphasizing the role user photos play in setting up stays; streamlining the company’s process for reporting and resolving discrimination allegations; providing anti-bias training for company staff; requiring staff to meet public divert goals; and forming relationships with black colleges and universities to strengthen recruitment connections. 

MN dentists grapple with issue of opioid prescription practices

Readers may be aware that opioid addiction is an important issue nowadays, one which frequently appears in the headlines as authorities attempt to grapple with the growing problem. The problem is one which deeply concerns not only law enforcement agencies, but also the medical profession.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. State medical professional boards have taken notice of the problem and, to a greater or lesser degree, monitor medical professionals to ensure they are following acceptable prescribing standards. Most medical professionals understand the problem and act professionally, with due caution when prescribing opioid painkillers to patients. 

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