Case Background: In 1988, Dr. Wojewski, a surgeon, became a member of the medical staff at Rapid City Regional Hospital ("RCRH"). Dr. Wojewski's status entitled him to admit patients, use the hospital's facilities, and perform surgery at RCRH. Dr. Wojewski could also use RCRH employees, such as nurses, to assist him in surgery. Dr. Wojewski performed all of his operations at RCRH, as it is the only facility in the region for surgeries in his specialty. However, Dr. Wojewski leased separate office space and maintained his own staff (including office staff, nurses and a physician's assistant) that he hired and paid.
Medical staff membership required Dr. Wojewski to provide appropriate patient care, abide by medical staff by laws, prepare required medical records, abide by ethical principles, attend an orientation program, participate in continuing medical education, and schedule operating room time. Dr. Wojewski also agreed to take calls from the RCRH emergency room for heart-related emergencies.
Dr. Wojewski billed his patients directly, and the patients remitted payments directly to Dr. Wojewski. In other words, RCRH did not bill patients for Dr. Wojewski's services and did not pay Dr. Wojewski for his services. The hospital did not issue a form W-2 or 1099 (tax forms) to Dr. Wojewski and did not pay his social security taxes or provide benefits, such as health and malpractice insurance.
In 1996, Dr. Wojewski was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and took a leave of absence for treatment. Later that year, RCRH conditionally reinstated Dr. Wojewski's staff privileges on a limited basis as outlined in a Letter of Agreement.
In August of 2003, RCRH reinstated Dr. Wojewski to the active medical staff subject to certain conditions that were outlined in a Letter of Agreement. This 2003 Letter of Agreement required that Dr. Wojewski "meet periodically with a monitoring physician; meet with [certain medical officers] upon demand." In addition, the agreement required that Dr. Wojewski "take mandatory vacations"; limit the time he was on call; participate in therapy; take prescribed medications and refrain from taking unprescribed medications; "consume no more than three glasses of wine per week"; submit to "random biological fluid collection"; "submit to . . . mental, physical or medical competency examinations" demanded of him; limit traveling; release all medical or other personal information relevant to his impairment; "submit to review of 100% of his surgical cases for a period of six months from the date of reinstatement"; and "submit a formal proctorship of his clinic and hospital practice."
After being reinstated, Dr. Wojewski entered a manic phase of his disorder. Specifically, Dr. Wojewski experienced an acute episode while performing open-heart surgery. Following a hearing, RCRH terminated Dr. Wojewski's medical staff privileges based upon concerns for patient safety.
Dr. Wojewski filed a discrimination claim against the hospital. In his complaint, Dr. Wojewski sought relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The defendants argued that Dr. Wojewski's claims under ADA were not valid because he was not an employee of RCRH but was an independent contractor.
Dr. Wojewski’s claim totally relies on his ability to prove to the court that he was an employee of the hospital. If he is an independent contractor, he is not entitled to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
1. List at least three of the questions that the courts ask in determining whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor.
2. Write a paragraph that describes evidence to support the argument that Dr. Wojewski is an employee of the hospital?
3. Write a paragraph that describes evidence to support the argument that Dr. Wojewski is an independent contractor?
4. Research the case. How did the court rule? Why did they rule in this manner?