5 Day Employee Wins Unemployment Claim

5 Day Employee Wins Unemployment Claim

One recent afternoon I received a call from a dentist (I’ll call him Dr. Bob) who had hired me to give compliance lectures for his group of fellow dentists. I had a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. Bob who always seemed to appreciate my expertise. I often wondered why he never hired me to ‘do my thing’ to help spiffy up his practice. That day Dr. Bob called for this exact reason, but under duress. He didn’t need a cover up, he needed a makeover and I was the man for the job.


The dentist hired an employee who decided after a week she didn’t want to work for him because of her long commute, so she quit. The woman filed for unemployment indicating she quit, but that she quit because of unsafe working conditions. This seems to change things from an unemployment eligibility perspective. If you don’t think this could happen to you - think again.


Dr. Bob is a good guy, a young dentist who recently transitioned the practice from an older dentist. He was aware the practice was dated when it came to compliance matters. Calling me to do my thing had been on his ‘to-do’ list, but there are a lot of things on that list and he hadn’t gotten to it. Does this sound familiar? This situation presented a great opportunity find out what needed to be fixed and take care of business. This was not about covering anything up, but about changing course to ensure safety and efficiency going forward.


As agreed, I arrived at Dr. Bob’s office a few days later to do my thing. There was a lot to see and do. Throughout the day I implemented numerous corrective actions with Dr. Bob and his staff. We went from “because that is the way we have always done it” to “let’s do it better, safer, and more efficiently!” Most people don't like change and there was quite a bit of grumbling, but everyone seemed to agree it was time and all committed to giving these “new things Tink is making us do” a fair shake. It was, in every way, a great day and I was EXHAUSTED but quite satisfied afterward.

On my drive home, I thought about the day’s events. While exhausted, I was even more exhilarated to have spent the day with an awesome dentist and his incredible dental team. Helping make dental offices safer for dentists, their patients and staff is what I love to do and I’m pretty good at it.


The next day I learned Dr. Bob received a letter from the unemployment agency. They asked some tough questions about specific safety requirements of the practice. The agency wanted a response. Now, a former government agent, I know how this works. What often happens it the doctor provides a written response. Many dentists would, in effort to be honest, admit the allegations were true. Lying to the government is never good (in fact it is a criminal act).


In this case there didn’t seem to be any benefit to admitting (or denying) anything. Depending on how he answered the response could set off a chain reaction involving OSHA and/or the Dental Board. The end result could have been  a fine, or a big fat disciplinary action (or both), a scar on his otherwise untarnished, but distinguished record. In the end, Dr. Bob checked his ego and as a result the 5 day employee won her unemployment claim. While some might disagree, this was Dr. Bob's decision to make and it worked out well.


When dealing with the government remember that even though Miranda Warnings are only read to suspected criminals (you know, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you” and so on) whether informed or not your right to remain silent always exists. Remember this right and consider it! Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut (remain silent). You ever heard that loose lips sink ships? Ponder this for a moment. 


In the end the former employee’s complaint was life changing for Dr. Bob and his staff. It demanded Dr. Bob to take action, which brought about needed change. The office is safer. Dr. Bob is relieved. Mission accomplished, and boy am I grateful to have been part of this awesome success story.


You know, I can’t walk into a office and look at just one thing. At Dr. Bob’s (and every other office I have worked with) I left no stone unturned; I looked over every part of that practice with a fine tooth comb. As a result, we addressed a number of compliance and risk management concerns unrelated to the complaint, so the office can now demonstrate a high level of compliance with OSHA, HIPAA, patient safety, and any number of other government rules and regulations today.


Even if Dr. Bob does get a visit from the government his immediate response and corrective action will surely win favor with any reasonable inspector. I should know I was one (inspector) and I was a real hard nose in my day. I was pretty heavy-handed with my ticket book and I lived by the credo, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Ponder the meaning of that saying. 


Dr. Bob waited to call me when he had a problem. Call me, but don’t be like Dr. Bob and wait until you have a problem. Most people call me when everything is going well. How about you?


Be Well. Do Good. Be blessed. 


- Tink


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