Whistleblower Claims Failed Because ER Doctor Was an Independent Contractor

From SHRM, Rosemarie Lally, J.D., discusses a recent case in which an independent contractor was not able to pursue a claim for retaliation under Minnesota’s whistleblower law. The plaintiff was a doctor who was employed by Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS) but worked part of the time at a Mayo Clinic (a separate entity). The appeals court considered the plaintiff to be an independent contractor with respect to the Mayo Clinic. Rosemarie writes:

The appeals court focused on the right of the employer to control the means and manner of performance as the most important factor in determining whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor. Although Mayo Clinic approved clinical associate appointments, scheduled the plaintiff, decided her compensation rate, supervised her and gave her performance reviews, the court noted that MCHS retained “primary appointment, oversight and accountability;” jointly made clinical associate appointment recommendations with Mayo Clinic; and set up the assessment process for Mayo Clinic’s performance reviews. These facts suggest that Mayo Clinic did not control the plaintiff, the court said.

Further, the plaintiff was paid only by MCHS, and the right of termination was expressly given only to MCHS in the employment contract. “In sum, no factors weigh in favor of employee status, … so we conclude the plaintiff was an independent contractor and not an employee of Mayo Clinic,” the court said, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment on the whistleblowing claim.

I am surprised that the court said “no factors weigh in favor of employee status” when the Mayo Clinic approved appointments, scheduled the plaintiff, determined her pay rate, supervised her and gaver her performance reviews.

Read the full story at Whistleblower Claims Failed Because ER Doctor Was an Independent Contractor

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