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Employment & Professional License Defense

19 states now signed onto Medical Licensure Compact, but not all on same terms

We’ve previously written on this blog about the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a voluntary agreement aimed at making it easier for physicians to become licensed to practice in other states. The agreement is a response to the requirement that physicians apply for licensure separately in each state, which can be frustratingly time-consuming.

At present, 19 states have signed the compact, though only eight of the signatory states have signed on to act as primary states of licensure. In other words, these states both accept applications for licensure from physicians principally practicing in other states and act as the principal state of licensure for physicians seeking licensure in other states. Wisconsin is among this group of states. 

Filing discrimination complaints with state, federal agencies: how does the process work?

Previously, we said that employees who believe they may have experienced racial discrimination on the job need to understand not only how to report violations internally, within their company, but also how to report violations to state and federal authorities. As we noted, the EEOC is responsible for handling complaints of employment discrimination at the federal level, while the Minnesota Department of Human Rights handles complaints at the state level.

Like the EEOC, the MDHR’s role is to be a neutral enforcement agency with respect to violations of discrimination laws. The agency investigates complaints, attempts to negotiate settlements when there is probable cause to believe a violation occurred, and may refer the matter to the Attorney General for prosecution. One difference between state and federal discrimination claims, though, is that the EEOC requires employees to file a complaint with the agency before filing a private discrimination claim. This is not a requirement under Minnesota law. 

How should a nurse handle allegations of substance abuse?

Working as a nurse is a difficult, demanding job. There are long hours, angry patients, impatient family members and little margin for any kind of mistake or failure. Sadly, this stress leads some nurses to turn to substances to help them get through their daily life - perhaps Benzos to combat stress, or ADHD medications to boost focus and energy levels.

When occasional use turns to habitual use, however, it can cost these hardworking professionals their careers. State boards can be unforgiving - and under state licensing laws, being chemically dependent on any substance can be grounds for licensing review.

MN company settles racial harassment case with EEOC

Last month, Minnesota mattress manufacturer Sealy reportedly settled a case with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involving allegations of racial harassment. According to the agency, some of the company’s employees had been engaging in seriously, racially-hostile behaviors, which included racial jokes and slurs and racially motivated actions that easily could have been perceived as threatening.

The behavior had reportedly been going on at the company’s St. Paul facility. Sealy insists that it took quick action to address the behavior, terminating several supervisory employees and providing remedial workforce training afterward. Nevertheless, Sealy chose to settle the case after an EEOC investigation found that there was reasonable cause to believe the company had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The settlement requires Sealy to pay $175,000, to be split among the victims, and to take certain remedial measures to more effectively address workplace harassment.

Court documents allege physician wrote illegal prescription for Prince

Minnesota readers have probably heard that toxicology tests following the death of pop icon Prince found that the cause of death was opioid overdose. Specifically, Prince was found to have overdosed on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

One of the questions that investigators sought to answer after learning the cause of death was how Prince obtained fentanyl. If the answer to this question is known, it is not yet available to the public. Recently unsealed court documents do, however, provide some of the details of Prince’s addiction prior to his overdose. 

Wrongful termination and the at-will employment rule, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the topic of wrongful termination, specifically as it relates to the rule of at-will employment. As we noted, there are a number of exceptions to the rule under state and federal law. The rule can also be modified by contract as well, as often happens with executive level employees and in collective bargaining agreements.

The at-will employment rule can be modified in a number of ways. One common provision is that the employer is only able to terminate the employment relationship for cause, such as poor job performance, misconduct, or financial necessity. For some employees, contract terms may also specify the employee’s due process rights when the employer moves to terminate.

Steps an LADC should take after receiving a letter of inquiry

As a licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC), your job is to help people who are struggling with addictions. Occasionally interactions regarding this sensitive subject can go sour. And you may find that one of your clients has filed a complaint against you with the state licensing board.

These cases are uncommon, and many of the complaints are never even investigated. However, it is still important that you understand the steps to take in case you do receive notice that you are under investigation.

Wrongful termination and the at-will employment rule, P.1

Job security is a valuable thing, even when you’re underemployed, and most people like to think that they have reasonable job security. To think otherwise is difficult. Job security can be looked at a couple ways, though. First, there is job security seen from a practical standpoint—an employee’s likelihood of being terminated. Most employees who are tuned into the nature of their work and the feedback they routinely receive from their employer probably have a pretty good idea where they stand in this area.

Second, though, there is job security from a legal perspective. From this perspective, there is actually very little job security for most people. That’s because most people are employed at-will, meaning the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason. That is a two-way right of course, but it doesn’t always balance out in terms of bargaining power. 

Accused physicians: work with experienced attorney to defend rights in complaint review process

We’ve been looking at the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice’s physician complaint review process in recent posts. Last time, we noted several potential outcomes of the complaint review process, including dismissal, public corrective action, and disciplinary action.

A stipulation and order, which we briefly described in our last post, is one form of disciplinary action that may be taken after a complaint is thoroughly reviewed. Usually, in cases where the Complaint Review Committee determines that a written reprimand is desirable, it will first attempt to resolve a case with a stipulation and order first. If the physician refuses to cooperate with that, the committee will impose other disciplinary action. 

A brief look at the physician complaint review process in MN, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the complaint process as overseen by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. As we noted last time, one of the aims of the investigating complaints is to determine whether the physician who is the subject of the complaint met the minimum standard of care under the circumstances. This, of course, is also a central issue in medical malpractice litigation.

In some cases, complaints will be closed out early on when certain requirements or conditions aren’t met. These include cases where the matter of the complaint falls outside the jurisdiction of the medical board; where two or more member of the Complaint Review Committee agree to dismiss the case; the medical coordinator recommends closing the case; or the physician’s license is cancelled after two years of failure to renew. Complaints may also be dismissed when the physician satisfies the requirements of a corrective action agreement and there is a vote to dismiss, or when the medical board approves a stipulation and order. 

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