Hiring and Firing

November 5, 2019 | Health System Risk Management


For every job applicant and every employee, healthcare organizations must recruit, hire, and fire with great care. Despite pressure to recruit personnel and fill positions rapidly, employers must proceed cautiously when hiring to ensure that the organization is staffed by individuals who possess the training and skills necessary for safe patient or resident care. Careful screening of potential employees can circumvent hiring individuals who may place patients or residents at risk of harm and subject the organization to risk of liability for negligent or criminal acts. Healthcare organizations must also discipline or fire employees when it is justified while taking measures to protect the employer from claims of wrongful discharge, unlawful retaliation, or other unlawful employment discrimination based on race, national origin, age, gender, religious beliefs, disability, or genetic information.

Risk managers should become familiar with the myriad employment laws and regulations that concern recruitment, screening, hiring, and firing to ensure that organizational policy and practice do not violate applicable laws and regulations. These include federal, state, and local laws and government regulations that apply to all employees, as well as other requirements that apply uniquely to labor relations with unionized employees.

Risk managers should be familiar with legal principles commonly involved in employment litigation.

Employment at will. This doctrine holds that both the employer and the employee have absolute discretion to end the employment relationship. However, courts have carved out public policy exceptions and legislatures...

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