David J. Clark, Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Medscape, in “Docs Suffer from Noncompete Clauses: Any Hope for Change?” by Shelly M. Reese. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

When Traci Purath, MD, a Wisconsin neurologist, decided to leave the health system where she worked and go into private practice in 2012, she faced a major stumbling block: the noncompete clause in her employment agreement precluded her practicing within a 15-mile radius of either of the health system's facilities for at least 18 months.

Purath's lawyer said fighting the contract would cost about $50,000, and she wouldn't be able to practice medicine until the case was settled. Undaunted, Purath opened a clinic in a small town about 30 miles away. …

The Debate Continues

In recent years, that missing piece has attracted the attention of governing bodies. Historically, states have used legislation and case law to frame the rules governing noncompetes. The result is a wild and inconsistent patchwork, says David Clark, an employment attorney with Epstein Becker Green in New York City. Some states, such as California and North Dakota, ban them outright. Others allow them, and a growing number have implemented carve-out provisions that specifically apply to physicians.

“There is one school of thought that says physicians are considered to be generally sophisticated people: they know what they are getting into when they sign a contract, and they have negotiating power,” Clark says. “But there is also the consideration – and in the medical context, I think it’s the paramount consideration – that there should be patient choice and that patients should be able to see the doctor that they want.”

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