Verbal Abuse By Doctor-Boss

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about stopping a verbally abusive doctor:

I have been verbally abused by a doctor in front of the nursing staff that I work with. This doctor directly called me a “dumb ass”. Can I file a law suit against this doctor for his verbal abuse, and if I were to do this, what sort of problems could arise from this, and how would it affect me?

Signed, Humiliated

Dear Humiliated:

You may want to talk to an attorney about what is the level at which words become abusive for lawsuit purposes. Unless there is much, much more than “dumb ass” it would probably not rise to the level required to be considered harassment or hostile. However, as I noted, a lawyer might see it differently. You ask about what problem a lawsuit would cause: Potentially, many! Obviously it would be difficult if not impossible to work effectively in a small office if you were suing a boss. Others who sympathize with the boss may be angry as well.If you have a trusted friend at work, talk to him or her about the situation and see what they think. It would also be helpful to talk to your boss and explain how badly you felt. He might welcome a chance to apologize or at least to try to soften his remarks.

The biggest issue is to analyze what led up to the comment and to find out if there is a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If there is some aspect of your performance or behavior that was being complained about, work on that, even though the boss was wrong to say what he did. If he was completely in error, at least you can work on building a better working relationship so he is not likely to use that kind of language with you. If he talks that way all the time, consider if you want to keep working in that environment. Best wishes as you work through this situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe