Physician unionization

April 17, 2008

Can physicians who are employed by a hospital to cover the ED form a labor union?

Q. Can physicians who are employed by a hospital to cover the ED form a labor union?

A. The primary barrier to effective physician unionization is the fact that independent physician members of hospital staffs are not “employees” of the hospital, and their collective bargaining activities are not protected by the labor laws. Any concerted efforts by such physicians targeting a hospital, such as a threat of mass resignations, walkouts, etc., would risk liability under the antitrust laws, which prohibit, among other actions, a “concerted refusal to deal”

William H. Maruca is a partner with the Pittsburgh office of the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. He can be reached at 412-394-5575 or wmaruca@foxrothschild.com.

The answer to this query is a general opinion and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. You should not rely on this reply in making decisions involving questions of law, but should instead consult with competent legal counsel.