Stealing Employees from a Medical Practice in California (Know the Law)
Medicine is a highly competitive field in the Bay Area. The Medical Board of California reports that there are nearly 170,000 licensed doctors in the state. There are many thousands of professional practices. This raises an important question: Can medical practices in California protect their competitors from stealing employees? The short answer is that our state has very limited regulations to protect business, but medical practices have some options for keeping staff. Here, our Fremont business lawyer for medical practices highlights the key things you should know about the laws around stealing employees from a competing business in California.
What Medical Practices Should Know About California Law on Stealing Employees
The most important piece of background information for medical practices to understand is that California is an at-will employment state. Either the employer or the employee can end their working relationship at any time for almost any reason, except for an illegal reason. Further, there is no employee poaching statute in California. Quite the contrary, a medical practice can lawfully recruit and hire the employees of a direct competitor.
That being said, there are limits. Most notably, the law strictly prohibits large-scale workplace raids of a competing business. It is a violation that occurs when a business—including a medical practice—intentionally targets another business and tries to hire away a significant number of its staff all at once to undermine that competing firm.
Medical Practices Can Use Employment Contracts to Protect Staff
While the law does not prohibit general employee “stealing” by competing business, there are proactive steps that medical practices in California can take to protect the investment that they made in finding, building, and training their staff. The best option is generally a well-drafted employment agreement. These contracts outline the terms and conditions of an employee’s relationship with the medical practice. While non-compete agreements are not valid in California, an employment agreement could help to keep your staff in place. It may require advance notice and/or the repayment of certain bonuses if your employee leaves the practice before the end of their agreement.
A Medical Practice in California May Protect Proprietary Business Information with an NDA
Although California medical practices ultimately have somewhat limited options for stopping an employee from joining a competitor, they have far stronger options for protecting their sensitive business information. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can provide much needed protection if an employee had access to proprietary information about your medical practice. An NDA is a legal document that requires employees to keep certain information confidential for a predetermined period.
Contact Our California Business Lawyer for Medical Practices Today
Lynnette Ariathurai is a top-tier business attorney with extensive experience working with medical practices. If you have any questions about California law regarding the stealing of employees from a competing medical practice, we are here to help. Contact us today for a completely confidential initial case review. From our Fremont office, our firm serves clients throughout the Bay Area.