You have been working as a highly compensated employee of a health care institution, either in
management or as a physician. You have an employment contract with that institution. After an
unexpected meeting with an HR person and a member of senior management, probably the
employer’s general counsel, your employer has just notified you that it is terminating your
employment pursuant to that contract.
As well as informing you verbally of their decision, they present you with or tell you that they will
send you a termination Agreement, which they expect you to read and sign. Usually, the employer
will give you time to review the termination agreement and/or suggest that you review it with an
attorney. Under no circumstances should you sign the document without taking it home and reading
As a management person about to be terminated, you probably understand the employer’s
termination stance and intend to retain an attorney to review the Agreement. As a physician, you may
or may not understand how important it is to retain an attorney when your employment is terminated.
However, there is more to protecting your rights and interests than simply retaining an attorney to
review the agreement. An attorney must examine the circumstances that led to the employer’s
decision, review your employment contract, review any relevant documents, such as medical staff
bylaws, and finally review the termination agreement itself.
Almost every termination agreement can be negotiated. There are at least twenty state and federal
laws that exist which protect even highly compensated health care employees. After conducting the
above reviews the attorney could discover that the employer has or is about to violate your rights and
interests under one or more of state and federal law. That discovery can provide the leverage that will
force the employer to negotiate with you.