Labor and Employment Issues Facing the Healthcare Industry

Public discourse on “healthcare” has focused primarily on health insurance and the significant changes made by the Affordable Care Act. But what about the providers of healthcare—the doctors, nurses, hospitals, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, home care agencies—that make up the industry itself? As the healthcare landscape shifts, so do the risks and challenges healthcare industry employers face.

Healthcare employers have historically had to contend with a number of demanding labor and employment related issues, including increased attempts at union organizing, rising wage and hour class actions, negligent hiring and discrimination claims, and the complexities of healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Recent legislative, regulatory and litigation changes have compounded these challenges, and created new industry obstacles. Whistleblower lawsuits against healthcare employers have risen to an unprecedented level. Changes to wage payment regulations have home healthcare employers scrambling to understand and comply with the evolving law. Federal agencies are redefining which healthcare entities should be covered by and subject to government contracting regulations. Mass hysteria over disease outbreaks has put healthcare safety practices under the microscope. Meanwhile, the demand for quality healthcare grows.

This paper is intended to provide healthcare employers with an overview of key labor and employment issues facing the industry. Topics include traditional labor law issues, business restructuring, employment discrimination, whistleblower claims, wage and hour matters, workplace safety, federal contract compliance, negligent hiring, antitrust and price-fixing claims, potential concerns stemming from credentialing and peer review, and doctor privilege and immunity matters.

This publication is not intended as a panacea for all healthcare industry legal concerns, but rather a guide to some of the most common and challenging issues that may arise. The goal of this paper is to provide a greater understanding of these issues, and help foster discussion within your organization.

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Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.