Ascension recently hired seven employees specializing on interventional radiology as well as cardiovascular work. The majority of their former 11-member team worked for ThedaCare.
ThedaCare has taken legal action to block former employees from pursuing their new jobs. Outagamie Circuit Court Judge Mark McGinnis knowingly agreed last week to legal stop these workers starting their new jobs. These Americans weren’t prohibited contractually to leave their old jobs at any time or take up new ones.
The court’s temporary restraining order stated that Ascension must “Make available to ThedaCare one invasive radiology technician and one registered nurse of the individuals resigning their employment with ThedaCare to join Ascension, with their support to include on-call responsibilities or…Cease the hiring of the individuals referenced until ThedaCare has hired adequate staff to replace the departing IRC team members.”
The judge demands that Ascension “make available” the resource. This is because Ascension did not make it available to them. The brazen demand by ThedaCare is not based on any contract or noncompete clauses. It simply declares that the former employees will choose to leave and it will cause harm. The matter will be heard again today.
Ascension was not involved in active poaching. The employees were offered the job, one accepted, the other preferred it, and the word got out to all. They should be free to choose.
ThedaCare insists that since it is the only Level II trauma and comprehensive stroke care operation in its area (stretching from Green Bay and Milwaukee), the loss of its ability to have 24/7 staff on call—at least until it is able to find people freely willing to accept its compensation package—could both threaten its accreditation and present health risks to the residents who might need its services.
Lynn Detterman, a senior vice president at ThedaCare, told WBAY that “it just really in the spirit of our community is harmed by this potentially so we just want to work collectively to ensure that does not happen”—by preventing American citizens from taking another job they prefer more.
Appleton, Wisconsin: Post-Crescent, Ascension wrote that “Workforce shortages are one of the many stresses healthcare systems have faced during this pandemic….Contrary to the allegations in the ThedaCare lawsuit, Ascension Wisconsin did not initiate the recruitment of the ThedaCare employees. Rather, the employees applied for open job postings….It is Ascension Wisconsin’s understanding that ThedaCare had an opportunity but declined to make competitive counter offers to retain its former employees.”
Timothy Breister told Judge McGinnis, that one of the healthcare workers was being unfairly treated like a serf. He said that after hearing about an Ascension colleague receiving a better offer “not just in salary but also in work/life balance,” that he applied. When he sought a counter-offer from ThedaCare, he was informed that ThedaCare’s long-term expense was more than the short-term cost.
Alas! This is the kind of thing where treating healthcare as a matter for public policy instead of free markets could lead. McGinnis’s order provided no legal justification or precedent for this outrageous act. One that is constitutionally compliant seems impossible to imagine.