Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The 2nd nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2022” is … the claim-filing clinic

Suppose you have a group of unhappy employees. They don't like their working conditions. They don't like their pay. They generally want to work somewhere else. When they give you their notice, do you:

(a) Let them walk. 
(b) Engage them to see what will entice them to say.
(c) Sue them for an injunction to stop them from leaving.

If you chose (c) you are ThedaCare, a Wisconsin healthcare system. You are also the 2nd nominee for the Worst Employer of 2022.

The employees in question are seven of 11 members of ThedaCare's interventional radiology and cardiovascular team. They attempted to quit their jobs and accept employment at Ascension, another local health care system. Each of the seven employees were employed at-will and none had a non-compete or other agreement restricting their post-employment activities or obligations. ThedaCare had also rejected their requests for a higher salary to match what Ascension had offered them.

How then could ThedaCare hope to stop these employees from leaving? It sued for an injunction and argued in court that it needed a 90-day reprieve to find replacements so that patient care wouldn't suffer. After granting ThedaCare a brief and temporary weekend restraining order, the court heard further arguments yesterday. It ruled against ThedaCare and permitted the seven employees to start their jobs at Ascension. 

This tactic is simply unacceptable. The remedy to halt an employee from resigning a job for one that he or she thinks is "better" is to treat the employee in such a way that the employee won't want to quit. It's not to sue the employee to keep him or from leaving. 

Last I checked, employment at-will means that either party can terminate the relationship at any time and for any reason. What's good for one must be good for the other. I, for one, am not looking to get rid of at-will employment. Thus, we can't bind employees to jobs that they no longer want to keep. Otherwise, what's to stop employees from arguing that just cause is needed to fire them. That's a trade I'm not willing to make. Don't sue these employees; just treat them better.

If you sue a group of employees to stop them from quitting and to keep a job they no longer want, you might be the worst employer of 2022.