Doctors in the Pittsburgh area who are leaving residency and entering private practice for the first time probably experience both nervousness and excitement over their new position. In all the bustle, it can be easy for the doctor to overlook important legal details about their employment. It could even be very tempting just to sign their employment contract without much more than a glance.
While everything is going well with their employer, the details of their contract may not seem to matter. But when there is a dispute, or when the doctor simply decides to move on, they can regret not fully understanding their contract or, better yet, having an experienced attorney review it.
A doctor signing an employment contract should understand non-compete terms
To give just one example, even if they are offering a temporary assignment, hospitals and private practices will often expect the doctor they are onboarding to agree to a non-compete clause as part of their contract.
The non-compete clause will usually state that the doctor agrees, after leaving their existing employment, to not work as a doctor for a certain length of time and within the same geographical area as their former employer.
The clause may specifically say that the doctor will not open a practice within a certain number of miles of the employer.
These non-compete clauses often come with stiff legal penalties for violating them, including the possibility of having to pay damages or submit to a court order called an injunction. If they signed a non-compete clause, a doctor may find it hard to establish their practice elsewhere.
These clauses sometimes are so broad that Pennsylvania courts will not enforce them as written. Usually the best way to handle these clauses is to negotiate differences upfront. A doctor will want to understand all of their legal options when doing so.