Hospital hallway with bed
Hospital hallway with bed
Hospital hallway with bed

Workplace Discrimination: What You Can Do if You've Been Unfairly Targeted

Learn how to address workplace discrimination as an MD or DO with these steps from Andwise. Understand your rights, document evidence, and take action to advocate for yourself.

By: Chuck Kable, JD

Published: May 28, 2024

📂 Legal Education

Written for:

✅ Medical Students

✅ Residents and Fellows

✅ Early Career Physicians

✅ Mid Career Physicians

✅ Established Professionals

No one deserves to feel discriminated against at work. Unfortunately, for MDs and DOs, various forms of discrimination can occur within healthcare institutions. This can create a hostile work environment and negatively impact your career. Here's what you need to know about workplace discrimination and how to advocate for yourself:

Understanding Discrimination:

Discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favorably than others because of a protected characteristic. In the context of employment, federal and state laws protect MDs and DOs from discrimination based on:

  • Race

  • Color

  • National Origin

  • Religion

  • Sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation)

  • Age (40 or older)

  • Disability

Examples of Workplace Discrimination:

  • Unequal Pay or Promotion Opportunities: Being consistently passed over for promotions or receiving lower salaries compared to colleagues with similar qualifications and experience, but of a different race, gender, or age.

  • Unequal Work Assignments: Being assigned less desirable tasks or having a heavier workload compared to colleagues due to a protected characteristic.

  • Hostile Work Environment: Experiencing verbal or physical harassment, offensive jokes, or discriminatory comments related to your protected characteristic.

  • Retaliation: Facing negative consequences like job termination or a sudden decrease in responsibilities after reporting a discrimination incident.

Documenting Evidence:

If you suspect you're being discriminated against, it's crucial to start documenting what’s happening to you. This record strengthens your case if you need to file a complaint:

  • Dates and Times: Keep a detailed record of specific incidents, including dates, times, and witnesses present.

  • Details of Events: Document the specifics of each incident, including what was said or done, and how it made you feel.

  • Copies of Emails/Communications: Keep copies of any emails, memos, or other documents that support your claims of discrimination.

Taking Action:

There are various avenues for addressing workplace discrimination:

  • Internal Reporting: Most healthcare institutions have internal grievance procedures. Following these procedures allows you to formally file a complaint within your workplace.

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. You can file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory incident.

  • State and Local Agencies: Many states and localities have their own anti-discrimination laws and agencies that can investigate your complaint.

  • Lawyer: Consulting with an attorney specializing in employment law can provide legal guidance and support throughout the complaint process.

Seeking Support:

Experiencing workplace discrimination can be stressful. Here are some resources for support:

  • Physician Associations: Many state and national physician associations offer resources and support for members facing workplace issues, including discrimination.

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Many healthcare institutions offer confidential EAP services that can provide emotional support and counseling in cases of workplace issues.

  • Support Groups: Connecting with other MDs and DOs who have faced workplace discrimination can be a valuable source of understanding and encouragement.

Empowering Yourself:

Understanding your rights, documenting evidence, and knowing your options for taking action are crucial steps towards addressing workplace discrimination. You are not alone, and there are resources available to support you. Don't be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself. A fair and inclusive workplace fosters a better environment for everyone, including patients. By taking action, you contribute to creating a more respectful and just healthcare system.

Ready to take the next step? From Resident to Practicing Physician: Understanding Employment Contracts

With Chuck Kable, JD 🟢

1. Book Your Session

2. Unpack Employment Contracts

3. Secure Favorable Contract Terms

Choose a Time 🚀

Mastering Your First Employment Agreement: Tailored for newly graduated doctors about to sign their first employment contracts, emphasizing understanding over negotiation.

As you transition from medical school and residency to your first position as a practicing physician, navigating employment contracts is crucial. This session delves into the essentials of employment agreements, focusing on clauses such as non-compete, compensation structures, and malpractice insurance implications. Equip yourself with the knowledge to take control of your career.  Learn not just what your contract means, but how to manage it and your new employer to set yourself up for maximum flexibility with minimum hassle.

Disclaimer: This educational session provides general information on employment contracts in healthcare and is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be created by attending this session. Consult a licensed attorney for advice on specific legal issues.

Read more by Chuck Kable, JD

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