Breaking Down Discipline

From just cause to non-reappointment.

What does your contract say about discipline. Is there just cause? Possibly.

The HOA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has a stand-alone paragraph that reads: “The Employer shall not discharge or take other disciplinary action without just cause.”

It doesn’t say the Employer will “endeavor” not to discharge or “try” not to take “other” disciplinary action.  The words “shall not” in paragraph 178 are important.  The word “shall,” implies a legal standard, that it will not happen. The language has remained unchanged for many years in consecutive contracts, which also carries weight with an arbitrator.  The burden of "just cause" is on the Employer to prove.  The discipline imposed must fit the alleged violation.  

Each program has written policies regarding evaluation, promotion, remediation, suspension, and termination.  None of those policies supersede your collective bargaining agreement.  If you find yourself on the receiving end of an evaluation or a remediation plan that seems unfair, ask for assistance.  There are mechanisms in place for you to appeal/grieve these decisions.  

Professionalism is the "catch all" sited in most disciplinary cases.  Professional conduct is further defined in the Medical Staff Bylaws.  As physicians, you are required to meet the standards set forth by the state of Michigan at an accredited institution.  

March 1 of each academic year is the deadline for non-reappointment.  All House Officers must be given notice of non-reappointment no less than 4 months prior to the end of his/her training year.  Typically, the only situation where a House Officer would be immediately suspended pending the outcome of an investigation is if they posed a risk to patient safety or violated the Public Health Code, Section 333.16221.

You have a union that is here to represent you and provide assistance if you find yourself on the receiving end of discipline.  When in doubt, reach out!