Whistleblowing doctor to face arbitration of termination case

By Dee Thompson | Jul 20, 2017

PHILADELPHIA – A whistleblowing doctor who complained about her employer treating a chiropractor as a licensed physician has seen her opponents win their court appeal that will send the dispute to arbitration.

Dr. Leslie Saltzman v. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals Inc. was decided June 30 by the Superior Court.

The lawsuit was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The defendants appealed the order entered in July of 2015, which overruled the defendant’s preliminary objections to the complaint and required an answer to be filed within 20 days.The order was reversed.

Leslie Saltzman, an internist, signed an employment contract in August of 2014 to work at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine. A few days before starting that job she had signed an employment contract with Jefferson Medical Care (JMC), and that contract contained a mandatory arbitration clause.

Saltzman says she learned while working at Myrna Brind that a chiropractor employed by JMC, Georgie Zabrecky, was being given the medical responsibilities of a physician even though he was not licensed as one. She reported that three times in October of 2014. JMC terminated her employment in November of 2014. 

Saltzman filed suit against JMC the following May, claiming JMC had retaliated against her in retaliation for being a whistleblower, which violated the Pennsylvania whistleblower law, and she claimed common-law wrongful termination. 

The hospital filed objections and sought to compel arbitration. In July of 2015, the court ordered the hospital to file an answer within 20 days. The court held that compelling arbitration went against the whistleblower law. 

Also, Jefferson Medical Care signed it, but JMC (the hospital) was not a party to the Physician’s Service Agreement signed by Saltzman, and the contract unreasonably favored Jefferson, the court found.

The defendants appealed, claiming the trial court erred and abused its discretion.

The order issued by Judge Geoff Moulton of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania concludes by saying that “... the trial court abused its discretion in overruling Jefferson’s preliminary objections seeking to compel arbitration.” The court ruled to reverse the order and remand the case.

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