Court dismisses Doctor's wrongful discharge claim; holds it is not illegal to discharge a physician for raising standard of care issues.
Linda McIntire was terminated by the Michigan Institute of Urology's St. Clair Shores office after about two years employed there. She filed suit, arguing that her discharge was motivated by race and her complaints about being assigned a disproportionate number of minority, uninsured, underinsured and Medicaid patients, and the pressure she received to keep low-paying Medicaid patients out of the St. Clair Shores office, which she believed made follow-up and compliance with the standard of care unreasonably difficult. The Court held that since her only complaint of racially-oriented misbehavior was a suggestion by one of the doctor employers that she "network with other African-American doctors," she had not established a prima facie case of race discrimination.
The Court also held that even though all the members of the doctor executive committee voted to terminate McIntyre's employment, comments made by any doctor who did not fire her were irrelevant. The judges ruled that since the doctor who ultimately fired her was not the doctor who assigned her patients, she also could not complain about the patient assignment system. The Court pointed out that since the employer articulated a non-discriminatory reason for firing her, she could only avoid summary disposition if she provided sufficient "disproof" of the employer's claims to create a triable jury issue. It held her "disproof" was inadequate.
The court rejected McIntyre's complaints of disparate treatment as compared with another junior doctor's treatment, holding that however tardy or deficient that doctor's behavior may have been, the company had not documented as many physician, staff and patient comlaints about his conduct as it had the Plaintiff's.
Lastly, the Court held that even if the St. Clair Shores office had a policy that was inconsistent with the standard of care, that policy--and McIntyre's objections to the policy--would not form the basis for a public policy rule precluding the doctors from firing McIntyre. The Court held that even if McIntyre was being forced to violate the legal "standard of care," she was not being forced to violate "the law" because "the standard of care in the medical profession is not based on an objective legal source." Oddly, even though it is the required foundation for proving any allegation of malpractice made by a Michigan victim, it is apparently too vague and "subjective" to be considered "the law."