Sorensen v. BlueSky TelePsych, LLC

Full title: Kelsey Sorensen, Plaintiff, v. BlueSky TelePsych, LLC, Defendant.

Court: United States District Court, District of Minnesota

Date published: May 19, 2023

Facts

BlueSky is a telemedicine mental health care provider, and Sorensen is a board-certified physician assistant who specializes in psychiatry. (Doc. No. 7 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 2, 6.) In February 2022, BlueSky and Sorensen entered into an employment contract (“Agreement”) for a one-year term. (Id. ¶ 9.) The Agreement required that Sorensen maintain a license to practice medicine in Illinois, Minnesota, and North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1-2 (“Agreement”) § 2.4.) The Agreement further provided that Sorensen would work thirty-two clinical hours and eight administrative hours per week. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11.) Her annual salary was $127,500. (Id. ¶ 10.)

After entering into the Agreement, Sorensen spent $564 to obtain licenses in Illinois and Michigan. (Id. ¶ 22.) BlueSky’s owner, Dr. Richelle Strauss, stated that Sorensen would be reimbursed for these costs. (Id.) In May 2022, Sorensen began working with patients. (Id. ¶ 23.) That same week, Sorensen reached out to Dr. Strauss, letting her know that they needed to sign a collaboration agreement before she began treating Illinois patients. (Id. ¶ 27.) Dr. Strauss responded that the company’s credentialing specialist, Thao Vu, had already completed the required forms. (Id.) Sorensen told Dr. Strauss that it would be impossible to complete the forms without her signature.

Later that week, Dr. Strauss texted Sorensen, stating that she had found the Illinois collaboration agreement and it “somehow has [Sorensen’s] signature.” (Id. ¶ 29.) Sorensen again told Dr. Strauss that she had not signed the agreement. (Id. ¶ 30.) Dr. Strauss responded: “a forgery perhaps . . .” (Id. ¶ 31.) A few minutes later, Dr. Strauss called Sorensen and added Vu to the call. (Id. ¶ 32.) Vu stated that she had completed the required documents for Illinois on Sorensen’s behalf and signed her name. (Id.

The next day, Sorensen asked Dr. Strauss to fill out a form for non-controlled medications. (Id. ¶ 33.) Dr. Strauss again stated that Vu had already completed that form. (Id. ¶ 34.) Vu later sent Sorensen an email, noting the various forms that had been submitted on Sorensen’s behalf, including a controlled medication license, a collaboration agreement, and the non-controlled prescription delegation. (Id. ¶ 35.)

In a meeting with Dr. Strauss, Sorensen expressed her concern that Vu had filled out these documents without her knowledge. (Id. ¶ 39.) Dr. Strauss told Sorensen that accusations of forgery were a “big deal” and that she could not work with people who did not trust her. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40.) Dr. Strauss ended the meeting abruptly. (Id. ¶ 40.) After the meeting, Sorensen sent Dr. Strauss an email, reiterating that what Vu did put both her and Dr. Strauss at risk. (Id. ¶ 42.) She ended the email by asking Dr. Strauss to “acknowledge that the handling of these documents was inappropriate, future documents that require [Sorensen’s] signature will be signed by [her], and concerns that [she] ha[s] will be treated with understanding instead of defensiveness.” (Id.) Two days later, Sorensen was fired “due to medical ethics violations.” (Id. ¶ 43.)

Sorensen brought this action against BlueSky, asserting seven claims: (1) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”); (2) declaratory judgment; (3) violation of the Minnesota Payment of Wages Act; (4) retaliation in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act; (5) breach of contract; (6) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (7) unjust enrichment. BlueSky now asks the Court to dismiss the action in its entirety. 

Issue

Decision

For the reasons outlined above, the Court grants BlueSky’s motion to dismiss Sorensen’s FLSA, declaratory judgment, and Minnesota Payment of Wages Act claims. The Court denies BlueSky’s motion concerning Sorensen’s remaining claims of retaliation in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and unjust enrichment.

ORDER

Based upon the foregoing, and the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Defendant BlueSky TelePsych, LLC’s motion to dismiss (Doc. No. [17]) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:

a. The Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim of retaliation in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (Count I). 

b. The Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim (Count II).

c. The Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing claim (Count III).

d. The Court GRANTS the Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment claim (Count IV). This claim is therefore DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

e. The Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Fair Labor Standards Act claim (Count V). This claim is therefore DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

f. The Court GRANTS the Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s violation of the Minnesota Payment of Wages Act claim (Count VI). This claim is therefore DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

g. The Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim (Count VII)

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