Dear Mrs. Crabby,
This is a work related problem. I hope you can help me. I work in a doctor’s office. Until recently we have enjoyed many years of a happy workplace. I am the billing clerk. Doctor has just hired a new nurse. This, in itself, is not an unusual thing. It’s the surrounding circumstances and the aftermath that is wreaking havoc in our formerly peaceful work environment. Doctor, who is divorced, met this nurse on a dating site. I did not realize that dating sites were also employment agencies, but apparently they are. Or can be.
The rest of us did not realize how Doctor had met this woman the first couple of weeks, but it became apparent when the two of them would disappear into Room 11 during every lag in appointments. I don’t know what it is about Room 11, maybe it’s because the supplies are in there, including various medical lubricants. They make so much noise with their “goings on” that it’s very difficult to concentrate. We have all taken to bringing in our iPods and earbuds and drowning out their loud moans with our individual playlists. This is causing us to miss some phone calls, which means appointments are down and there’s more lag time….so there’s more…well, you get the idea. If this keeps up, there won’t be any patients any more and this will all be history. Worse yet, they expect one of us to clean up after them. Mrs. Crabby, I have never seen such strange aftermaths of these kind of encounters. None of us are sure what causes some of those kind of stains.
Then there is the added problem of Doctor still regularly surfing the same dating site, during the work day, for more partners. We’re not sure if he’s looking to replace all of us and we’re afraid to ask. But Doctor is trying to keep his continued surfing secret from Nurse and she is now highly suspicious and jealous of anyone else going near Doctor. She is like a volcano with him, alternating between jealous rage and explosive passion, which is really inappropriate in a professional environment. Or so you’d think.
It’s worse than a soap opera.
Does this qualify as a hostile environment in any kind of legal sense?
Tired of the “O”
As far a legal definition of hostile environment, I have to suggest you consult an attorney on that. And in our aggressively litigious society, I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding one.
As to your Doctor employer, hon, he has what is now falling in the category of clinically diagnosed internet addiction as a subcategory – Online Dating Addiction. This fine Yahoo article spells out the elements of this insidious dopamine seeking habit.
You can google this and find many other good articles. I would recommend going into Doctor’s computer and bookmarking many of these articles for him and have them come up, alternatively, as his homepage.
Meanwhile, you all need to try to wrap kindness around this nurse, because she has a problem too. She obviously knows he is a player and yet she stays. She can’t have any kind of healthy self-esteem. This is soul sucking and destructive. While you’re waiting to see what happens with any legal pursuits, it would be a kindness to take Nurse out for lunch and try to set her back on a healthier track. She may go bat-wackers on you and accuse you of trying to “steal her man”, but hey, at least you tried.
If there is no other solution, then just sit the two of them down in a confrontational intervention during your next lag. Have it in Room 11, for added emphasis. Film it for legal purposes. Or for later contributions to Dateline or 48 Hours.
There’s no reason you can’t all achieve a happy ending in this. It just takes some creative outside the box thinking, if you’ll pardon the pun. And I’d recommend keeping patients out of Room 11. Just as a health consideration.
Good luck to you!