Sep 14

SickKids Not Liable For Dismissal Resulting In Loss Of Medical Licence, Toronto Employment Lawyer


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Losing a job can have devastating impacts on employees and may result in more than just a loss of compensation. When your termination results in a chain reaction causing you to lose more than just your job, for instance your ability to live/work in Canada or your license to practise in your profession, the question becomes to what degree is your employer responsible.

This issue arose in a case involving the Hospital for Sick Children (“SickKids”). In this case, a physician, Dr. Gholami, worked for SickKids as a contractor from 2010 to 2011. He was enrolled in “Pathway 4”, a program that allows specialists trained in the United States to become licenced in Ontario. The program requires that the physician be supervised by a local specialist, and the physician receives a restricted, temporary licence for the duration of the program. However, if the local specialist becomes unable or unwilling to supervise, the temporary licence is revoked. After a period of tension in which other physicians complained about Dr. Gholami’s behaviour, Dr. Gholami’s supervisor determined that he was no longer able to supervise and resigned. As a result, Dr. Gholami lost his ability to practice in Ontario. He brought a wide-ranging claim against SickKids, alleging “wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, unlawful interference with economic relations, defamation, [and] malfeasance in public office.”

Sick Kids argued that Dr. Gholami was a contractor whose contract allowed his supervisor—Dr. Macpherson—to end the supervisory relationship for any reason. However, SickKids also acknowledged that, if Dr. Gholami had been willing to address the complaints against him, Dr. Macpherson would not have felt compelled to resign.

The Court, in Gholami v The Hospital for Sick Children, 2017 ONSC 1200, denied Dr. Gholami protections of an employee. Rather, the Court found Dr. Gholami was enrolled as a contractor in a program established by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (“the CPSO”) and administered by SickKids. The Defendants acted in a manner consistent with their professional obligations and their duties to the CPSO and also took reasonable steps to help Dr. Gholami find alternate employment.

It appears that the professional obligation doctors and hospitals are under, mixed with the fact that this was not a formal employment relationship, denied Dr. Gholami from the usual protections employees enjoy. It would have been interesting to see if the same outcome occurred if Dr. Gholami was hired as an employee of Sick Kids.

It is important to understand the context and implications of your relationship with your employer, especially if you are not hired as an employee. If you have questions about your rights under your contract with your employer you should contact an employment lawyer today.

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