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Doctors need to understand noncompete contracts

There are many physicians currently working in Melbourne, Florida, and many more who would like to be. When they work for a clinic that they do not own, they typically sign a contract, and that contract may include a non-compete clause. This will affect the work that the physician can do when they leave the clinic, either to work for a different clinic or to start their own independent practice. If they violate the terms of the noncompete clause, they can be sued for breach of contract.

Correspondingly, it is critical for physicians to understand noncompete clauses, which can also be called physician restrictive covenants, or noncompete contracts if they are freestanding. The contracts, by any name, are agreements that restrict where the physician can work. For example, if Dr. Jane Smith works for the Alphabet Clinic in the Summerhill neighborhood, she may sign a contract with a noncompete clause.

That noncompete clause may say, for example, that if Dr. Jane Smith quits the Alphabet Clinic, she won't be able to set up her own practice -- or join another established practice – in the Summerhill neighborhood for the following two years. From the Alphabet Clinic's perspective, this keeps them from losing business to someone whose reputation they helped build in that neighborhood. From Dr. Jane Smith's perspective, this limits her freedom to work in her chosen profession where and when she wants to.

As would be expected, noncompete clauses are popular with clinics but not popular with physicians. When courts look at the clauses, either when a breach of contract is alleged or when a physician simply wants to get out of one, they weigh the importance of respecting contracts freely entered into and the physician's right to work and support their family. The exact particulars of the noncompete clause figure in too, such as how wide of an area the clause affects, and how long of a period the clause covers.

Source: Healthcare in America, "What Doctors need to know about Non Compete Clauses," accessed Nov. 02, 2017

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