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Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19664
Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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I was hired as a Receptionist at a nearby Dentists office

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I was hired as a Receptionist at a nearby Dentist's office 3 weeks ago. It is a father & son practice and the Office Manager is the elder Dr.'s wife. From day one she has belittled me in front of patients, the other workers, etc. Verbal abuse such as "don't you remember what I told you" "Oh come one I told you what to do" etc. making me look incompetent which I am not. I have over 20 yrs. office experience and had to learn their software. The Dr.'s said I was good a great job but she was overbearing but I was dealing with it. Today, however, I apparently was not taking too long to make an appt. and she hit me in the arm like you would swat a fly and said "I told you what to do" - I was shocked and so upset - I got up - said nothing and went in to the restroom as I did not want her to see me crying - mind you, I am 50 yrs. old and she is about 70 yrs. old. When I came out she offered no apology and went on harassing me - I am a professional and finished my shift to the best of my abilities all the while shaking which does wonders for my high blood pressure. Had I not been brought up with extreme respect for my elders, another person might have struck her back or simply walked out - I did nothing but now that I have composed myself I cannot go back to that office after she struck me and I need some direction. I am personally injured mentally and have had no choice but to resign my position. I left a message for the younger Dr. as he was the one who hired me expressing my regret about resigning but because of his mother's actions against me I have no choice.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today and I'm sorry to hear about your employment matter. What information are you specifically requesting regarding this situation? Do you believe this woman harassed you for any specific reason or was she just generally a mean person to everyone? Did you have a specific contract for employment or were you just hired without an agreement?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She was nice to the patients but when it came to training me she had no patience and was verbally abusive as I wrote - I don't think it was that she didn't "like" me - she is the Dr.'s wife and has been there for 20 yrs. so she naturally knows everything and for the few hrs. I was there she expected me know everything she did and she constantly harassed me - and I did not have a contract - this was a part-time job in a local dentist's office 13 to 16 hrs. a week. Today she crossed the line when after belittling me all morning she lost her patience and hit me in the arm. Are there any avenues I can pursue to sue her for damages against me, my reputation and loss of this job as I could not return to work after she hit me?

Thanks for your quick response. You could bring a criminal and civil charge against her for assaulting you personally. But there is no identifiable claim against the employer (the medical practice) because, unfortunately, there are no state or federal laws that protect employees from being harassed just because the employer/manager is not nice.

New York like most states is an employment at will state - meaning that actionable harassment must be based on some legally protected trait or action. These exceptions are the civil rights protections (e.g., age, race, sex, religion), violations of public policy (e.g., harassed for attending jury duty, for refusing to break the law, for reporting illegal activity by the employer (aka a "whistleblower violation"), or having some contractual right to a just cause employment (meaning the employer cannot mistreat you without industrial due process - which basically insures a fair and accurate treatment). Without any of these exceptions, courts find that the employer has a legitimate business right to operate its business however it sees fit and the court will not second-guess the employer. These policies and decisions may in fact be awful and clearly not fair or even make good business sense. However, they are not ultimately unlawful.


You haven't cited that your treatment was because of a protected reason or action on your part; only that this woman had no patience and/or was generally cruel. You may have a civil or criminal action against her personally for assaulting you and the mental/emotional damages that came out of that assault. However, nothing you've stated indicates you have a claim against the employer (the medical practice) itself. You should apply for unemployment in this matter as you did in fact quit the position for good cause attributable to the employer; you would qualify for unemployment in this in stance.

You're welcome. Please leave a positive rating before you exit this chat as it is the only way I get credit for my answers. You are not charged any additional fee by the website for positively rating my question, but if you do not positively rate my question I do not get credit for my answers. If you have any questions in the future regarding this matter come back to this thread and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She did strike me in the arm with NO provocation by me whatsoever - I was only working there a few days - and we never had words or any conflict other than that she was verbally abusive and demeaning in front of patients and co-workers which led up to today when she swatted my arm with her hand when she lost her patience with me as I guess I was not working fast enough for her. Aside from unemployment which I will NOT be eligible for as I only worked a handful of days - I am out of a job - so how should I proceed if I want to go after her?


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you. Kindly use CONTINUE or REPLY button to ask for clarification or follow-up questions.

Hello: A different Professional here.

I would like to add the following to my colleague's detailed response to your concerns. Even if you were not mistreated on prohibited grounds of race, age, gender, national origin, or the like, you may have a claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress if your manager’s mistreatment has caused you to seek medical treatment including therapy for your stress. In order to prevail on your claim of Intentional Infliction of Emotion Distress you need to show that (1) your manager acted intentionally or recklessly; (2) the manager's action was extreme and outrageous; and (3) the manager's action is the cause (4) of your severe emotional distress.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is a tort, in the same class as personal injury. So, you may consider retaining the services of a local personal injury Attorney to assist you with your case. You can use the following site to find local personal injury Attorney who can assist you with your case:

Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19664
Experience: B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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