Employee or Independent Contractor?

7th Cir.: Surgeon was independent contractor not protected by Title VII 

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From HR Dive, reports that a surgeon who was an independent contractor at a hospital was not entitled to protection from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964. Lisa writes:

  • Because Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only applies to employees, an Illinois hospital was successful recently in turning back a lawsuit brought against it by a surgeon who claimed she was subjected to discrimination at the medical center (Levitin and Chicago Surgical Clinic, Ltd. v. Northwest Community Hospital, et al., No. 16-3774 (7th Cir. May 8, 2019)).
  • Yelena Levitin had complained to hospital officials that another doctor was criticizing her decisions and undermining her in front of her patients. Her relationship with Northwest and at least four other doctors was “uneasy,” according to court documents; several filed complaints concerning her professional judgment and one refused to work with her entirely. When the doctors’ credentialing committee terminated her practice privileges at the hospital, Levitin sued, alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, religion and ethnicity, as well as retaliation.
  • A district court determined that Levitin wasn’t entitled to Title VII protections because she wasn’t the hospital’s employee. The 7th Circuit affirmed, noting that the case rested on agency law, which looks to the “economic realities of the relationship and the degree of control the employer exercises over the alleged employee.” Northwest placed restrictions on Levitin, the court said, but they weren’t enough to make her an employee. Likewise, the peer review process didn’t render her an employee; the right to control generally comes from contractual and other workplace terms that govern the parties’ relationship, not an isolated peer review proceeding, the appeals court said.

Read the full story at 7th Cir.: Surgeon was independent contractor not protected by Title VII | HR Dive

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