I have linked to an interesting article out of the Santa Fe New Mexican about a dental assistant suing her employer.

She worked for him for over five years before writing the letter that got her fired and him a law suit. No matter how you slice it, it’s a lose/lose situation.


The dentist looks terrible to the public (who wants to go to a crazy dentist?) even though he may one day be able to clear his name legally.

If the assistant hasn’t already gotten another job, this may scare away other potential employers from hiring her.

Here are some of my thoughts.

  1. Never demean or embarrass others in public – not your boss, your spouse, your employee, your child, a patient… nobody. If you think you can get away with it, you’re delusional. Angry people sometimes couch their hostility saying mean things in a humorous and light way. They do this in order to make it more difficult for the other person to defend himself. If he tries, obviously he can’t take a joke.
  2. Employer, take your responsibility seriously to train and encourage the team. You set the example for the office – good or bad. This dentist’s actions certainly didn’t result in good actions by the assistant.
  3. Employee, if you have a bad employer, quit immediately, don’t hang on for five years. What did she really think she was going to accomplish writing a letter to a dentist who has demonstrated he does not respect her opinion? Writing a letter does not change the employer/employee relationship. He is still the boss and she is still the employee.
  4. Men, do not close your private office door when talking with female employees. If you are having a counseling session with employees, make it known to all what you are doing. Others are responsible to not listen in and the two having the meeting should keep their voices low.
  5. Yelling by team members (including the dentist) unless there is a fire, should not be tolerated. If the dentist has an anger problem, the team should encourage him or her to get help and be prepared to find another job. And as a corollary to this, don’t ever work for a dentist (or physician) who throws instruments.
  6. Most law suits are avoidable and this is an example of one that should have been.

If you have other thoughts, I would love to hear them. Also, consider using this material in a team meeting.