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Physician and Executive Contracts

Physician Contracts

Physician contracts present a very important and unique body of financial, job security, and lifestyle issues. You should have an attorney who knows the issues working in your corner.

Being certain that compensation is fair and protected, keeping an eye on non-competition clauses, and making it hard to fire a client but easy for a client to leave his or her employment, are all parts of my job. But, my concerns are broader than that.

For example, many young physicians just finishing their training are especially concerned with lifestyle issues. In addition to the obvious worries about unworkable call obligations, weekend and nighttime hours, and so on, I will look at other matters as well. For a young female physician weighing competing offers, one from a teaching hospital and one from a small private practice, we will ask her about her family planning for the next few years. Why? Because the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires employers to give employees up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, but only if the employer has more than 50 employees. So, in that example, if the physician reveals to us that she intends to start a family soon, we would advise her that the teaching hospital has the edge (because it is subject to the FMLA while the small private practice is not). Then, if she prefers the smaller private practice for other reasons, we make a point of talking with her about negotiating specifically for maternity leave rights in her contract with that practice.

Executive Contracts and Compensation

Executive contracts are about more than just your salary. They involve complicated compensation structures, stock options, stock grants, retirement and welfare benefits, perqs, severance, and incentive plans.

Executive contracts also often include non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, “change-in-control” clauses, “with cause” and “without cause” termination provisions, and so on.

If you are considering an executive position, you should contact an experienced lawyer to review (or, better yet, negotiate) the terms of your executive contract before you sign. we will work in conjunction with your CPA, your tax advisor, your financial advisor and others to be sure that you are obtaining the best deal for you.

Non-Competition Agreements

A non-competition agreement (“non-compete”) is a contract in which you promise not to compete with your employer after you leave your job. Each non-competition agreement (or clause) is written differently. Some are narrow and reasonable; others are very broad and incredibly damaging to a career. Some have loopholes; others have hidden risks that can ruin your ability to earn a livelihood for your family.

You should always seek advice from a lawyer before signing any non-compete or upon receiving any threat by a former employer that they intend to take action against you for supposedly violate some kind of restrictive contract you already have signed. You need advice on your best options, your legal risks, your future plans, and so on.

Different states handle non-competes differently. If your non-compete is enforced pursuant to Virginia law, they very often are enforced against employees . . . but there sometimes are hidden or subtle ways to destroy them. By comparison, another state's law might be more lenient. Knowing how different states handle non-competes, and knowing how (if possible) to cause a judge to use one state’s laws instead of another state’s laws, can make all the difference in a case.

Our employment lawyer has spent his entire career reviewing non-compete agreements, advising parties as to the enforceability of the provisions, and fighting them when necessary. We regularly represent clients when a former employer has sued them or threated to sue them.

Severance and Separation Agreements

When people lose their jobs, sometimes their employers offer some severance in exchange for signing a piece of paper (a “severance agreement” or “separation agreement”). Commonly, the agreement requires you to release any and all claims you have against the employer. This is a very serious thing.

Still, signing this document sometimes is exactly what you should do. However, you may not know what you are giving up by signing it. Employers can sneak all kinds of terms into the agreement that can make it much harder to get another job or get your career back on track. They can even make it so that you will not get paid for bonuses you already have earned, business expenses you already have incurred, and so on. You could inadvertently cut off your rights to benefits. And there also are certain terms for which you do want in there, for which you should negotiate.

If you are leaving a position, you should have an attorney that will look out for your best interest and make sure that you leave on terms that are the best for your family, your career, and your future.

Contact Us

If you would like help negotiating an emploment agreement, want a thorough review of an agreement you have been presented with, or if you are being threatened because of an agreement you have signed, please call us at (434) 972-9600 or contact us using the form below.
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Davidson and Kitzmann, PLC
211 E. High Street
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Tel: (434) 972-9600
Fax: (434) 220-0011

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