Injunction Lifted in ThedaCare Employment Dispute

A temporary restraining order has been lifted in ThedaCare’s litigation against Ascension Health, which was brought to prevent the departure of seven employees for a rival medical center . The case is proceeding in the Outagamie Circuit Court under Judge Mark McGinnis. The judge had previously issued a restraining order on Friday, blocking the workers from starting their new jobs.

Judge McGinnis, according to Wisconsin Public Radio, stated that the initial restraining order was issued to preserve the situation and allow time for a hearing to be held on the issue as the courts are required by Wisconsin Statute 813.02 to give “substantial weight” to any adverse impact on public safety and welfare. ThedaCare had argued that the region would be in danger of not having sufficient health care services if the employees were permitted to depart prior to replacements being hired. ThedaCare is also reported as having argued that patients could die as a result of untimely care.

After the full hearing on Monday, Judge McGinnis lifted the TRO and stated that the employees, including interventional radiologists and nurses, could begin their new employment. The defendants, Ascension Health, had argued that the suit was an inappropriate last minute attempt to block a situation that the plaintiffs had known about for a long time; according to Ascension, the plaintiffs had been given an opportunity to match the new salaries and work-life benefits that they offered, but they declined to do so. The judge is also reported as stating that the issue could be temporarily remedied by cross training of existing staff as well as alternate staffing solutions.

The underlying case, in which the plaintiff accuses the defendants of inappropriately group-recruiting from ThedaCare, will proceed, but the lifting of the restraining order permits the employees to begin their new employment. Several of the employees are reported has having stated that they were not directly recruited by the defendants and the plaintiffs were aware of the impending departure and its ramifications long before the suit was filed. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Godfrey & Kahn, while Quarles & Brady appears for the defendant.