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Do I have the right to refuse a client who is being inappropriate?

I am currently working at a Chiropractors office and I am an employee. I get patients referred to me by the Doctor. He takes care of all my soap notes ect..supplies me with my room and all that I need to do my work.  I came to him many months ago complaining of one client.. an 80 year old male who tends to get inappropriate during his massage and or when I am setting him up in a different room after.  He tends to say things like "If I was a bit younger.."  asks if I'm married.. He will rub my arms and tell me I have soft skin.. try to grab my legs while I am working... he once wanted to give me a tip and tried shoving it down my shirt.. and he also has asked for a hug this past time.  I have went to the Dr. about this every time something has happened.. He will usually blow me off and tell me he can't talk about it right now. Or that I cannot "pick and choose who I want to work on."  I told him I feel as if this is a form of sexual harassment, and it also makes me have a un-healthy work environment. Well today I stood my ground. I refused to work on him. I went to his office before my shift and told him that I would not be working on this person due to their inappropriateness.  He didn't say much. So when it came time for me to take that patient.. I didn't. I went to go let him know I wasn't going to work on him and he ignored me.. I got very upset and began to cry. The front desk lady seriously asked me if I was willing to lose my job over this. Told me I was getting worked up over nothing and that he is a harmless old man. I just ignored her. Yeah well this person is 80 years old and they damn well know what they are doing. Do you think he is going to ask the Dr. for a hug? Or say those gestures to him?! I have plenty of other elderly men and men in general that are very respectful towards me and know they are just coming in for therapy. His Father was there and noticed I was upset and he agreed with me that I do not have to put up with it. I didn't take that patient, the front desk lady told him I wasn't feeling well and the Dr. never spoke to him. She re-scheduled him for next week. I feel that I went to my employer with the complaint enough to where he could speak to the patient. I mean I've complained probably over 20 times. He has just made me feel like there is nothing I can do about it. There is a girl that works at the office and she is also a LMT but she turned to doing the billing more so she didn't really do much of it anymore. She warned me about this patient this first day I had him. They all know he is a pervert. The Dr. actually pretty much banned this patient for seeing this other girl even about his bills because he was just looking to stare at her and flirt. But I have to get stuck with him in a room working on him even when they all know this. But I feel like there is most certainly an action I can take. I have to stand up for myself and I feel like I shouldn't have to take feeling disrespected at work and feeling un comfortable.  I was wondering if anybody had any good advice for me?  

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Thats what Im saying...She needs money, and cant just up and leave...They are not treating her like a professional person... We go to school.. Pay big money...Take all these tests.. Get professionally licensed.. Then get treated like a slave and have to put up with it because we do need money.. I think its terrible....There have been several threads along this line about therapists being mistreated...If a patient is there only to grab the legs of a female massage therapist and want sex....He can go to a brothel instead.   Oh, but I forgot...Brothels dont take insurance.

Gael Wood said:

"It's the only reason you would stay there too.."

Well I don't think it is appropriate to tell a therapist that came here for advice from other professionals that the only reason she is at this job is for the money. That was not in her post. Not everyone can just up and leave their job because there is a situation they don't like.

Jessica, there must be a reason you don't leave that place, so I will offer you some practical advice. Get a little journal and document every single episode of sexual suggestion/overture or threat of job loss that occurs. Be able to show the date and time, state what happened, what you did, who you reported it to, and what the response or results were. It is a hassle, but if done in a matter of fact, professional manner, it can be a powerful tool to protect yourself. But, if you could find a better place to work, where you are respected, protected, and appreciated, just do that. :)

Thank you all for your support and responses.  I will be having a phone conference with a lawyer tomorrow to learn the rights I have in the State of Maine. I will respond back with my findings tomorrow afternoon. 

 I have been looking around for any other potential jobs. I really want to stay in the Massage industry but living inland.. it proves difficult here. Most job offers I see are on the coast which are about 2+ hours away.  Especially with Maine winters travel is always a concern when finding a job.  I just wish it didn't have to be like this.. He could of cut the cord from the very start when I first complained.. Or also a warning would of been something to try first as a last chance attempt. But he never ever spoke to him once.  I felt like if I said something to this guy..he probably would of left mad and I would of got fired. So I just acted like I didn't hear him and figured if I complained to the Dr. he would speak to his patient about it. I can't lose my job right now school loans, house mortgage..ect.. who knows how fast I could and if I could find another job. My state does not have many opportunities for anything. I figured since he is my employer and these are "his patients" as he likes to say.. then he should be the one who stands ground on their treatment plans and all things that need to be discussed.  I am taking a stand.. but a cautious one. I would like to use this as a learning experience as well. Even if I get information that proves I can refuse and show it to the Doctor and he does refuse this man from further massages.. I will still be looking for a different job..But will stay until I can find something else.. I can't afford to just drop it and have nothing. All my other patients are wonderful. So I could deal for the time being.. but would be very happy to move on. Massage will be my first pick but if I have to train or do something different until I can find a fit for me then so be it...I need to be with people who respect me.  I tried shaking it off and thinking maybe they're right.. maybe I'm just over-reacting..But then what the front desk lady said to me "do you really want to you lose your job over this?"  keeps playing back in my mind all weekend. How could you say that to someone? What if that was her daughter? or Her?  Would she really put up with that?  Why do they think its so harmless? Just because he is old? What about my health and well being? What about my safety? What about my respect? Obviously they do not care. So I hope this Lawyer has nothing but good things to tell me and can help me proceed in anyway he finds necessary. 

Jessica,

I hope you are documenting every incident, every interaction, and every conversation you have had with every member of the office including the client.  Dates, times, etc.  Everytime you go into the Drs office to make a complaint take a notebook and pen with you and document the conversation.  Maybe that will jolt the Dr into taking your complaints seriously.  It's sad that he won't just act on his own but maybe if he thinks you're preparing for litigation he might step up.  I'm curious to know how it goes next week when the client returns.  Please keep us informed.  Good luck. 

Oooops, didn't see Linda's reply above. 

I spoke to a sexual harassment lawyer and he did confirm that what I am  going through is sexual harassment and I do have the right to refuse do to that kind of behavior. I have to tell the Dr. I spoke to an attorney and that he confirmed all this and he does in fact have to take action to fix the situation. He also asked me if he had the posters up of the Maine Humans Right Commission which explains sexual harassment ect. He does not so I also have to tell him he needs to get the posters and display them. If he denies taking these steps then we will have to take further steps. 

Good...  Just thinking out loud....Sometimes massage therapists can find work in Physical Therapy Clinics...The Physical therapists can incorporate massage into their treatment plans. 

Jessica Belanger said:

I spoke to a sexual harassment lawyer and he did confirm that what I am  going through is sexual harassment and I do have the right to refuse do to that kind of behavior. I have to tell the Dr. I spoke to an attorney and that he confirmed all this and he does in fact have to take action to fix the situation. He also asked me if he had the posters up of the Maine Humans Right Commission which explains sexual harassment ect. He does not so I also have to tell him he needs to get the posters and display them. If he denies taking these steps then we will have to take further steps. 

You are doing the right thing. By doing it this way you are protecting yourself from retaliation by the employer. Should he be foolish enough to retaliate your lawyer knows, I am sure, what to do. Best of luck in an unfortunate circumstance.

Jessica Belanger said:

I spoke to a sexual harassment lawyer and he did confirm that what I am  going through is sexual harassment and I do have the right to refuse do to that kind of behavior. I have to tell the Dr. I spoke to an attorney and that he confirmed all this and he does in fact have to take action to fix the situation. He also asked me if he had the posters up of the Maine Humans Right Commission which explains sexual harassment ect. He does not so I also have to tell him he needs to get the posters and display them. If he denies taking these steps then we will have to take further steps. 

Hi again, Jessica...

I've been thinking a bit more about what you've said about your financial circumstances, and can't help but wonder whether you'd fare better under your own steam than working for a self-serving "healer", like your current one. Many years ago, when I was just starting out, I was lucky enough to find a mentor, who made a huge difference in my life. This man had become extremely successful (several times over, in fact - in different businesses), and would occasionally insert a casual remark into the context of whatever we were discussing, just to see if I was really paying attention to him, and if I was, would usually follow up with a smile and a line, like, "Well, my boy, that just might be one you'll want to look back on, some day..."

Among the many deeply insightful hints he'd dropped, back then, were

A) "Think smaller... and less...",

B)  " 'Who knows who' knows where for you", and

C) "Hmm... where do you think the flamingos will migrate to, this year?".

By these lessons, he was teaching me that I should  A)  think of ways to market myself to smaller, more specific target audiences, rather than larger ones...  B)  introduce myself to folks who were either decision makers or "social butterflies" (to whom others are drawn, since they'll tend to be outstanding referral sources), and  C)  pay more attention to the social behaviors and activities that are currently "in vogue" around me, since they will invariably inform me of where my marketing efforts will have the greatest impact, relative to the time and/or money invested into them.

Just as he was generous enough to take me under his wing, at a time when I was in truly desperate need, I'm sharing these with you -- "paying it forward". (And really, Jessica, how does it get any better than that?)

I thank you for that.

Doug Turet said:

Hi again, Jessica...

I've been thinking a bit more about what you've said about your financial circumstances, and can't help but wonder whether you'd fare better under your own steam than working for a self-serving "healer", like your current one. Many years ago, when I was just starting out, I was lucky enough to find a mentor, who made a huge difference in my life. This man had become extremely successful (several times over, in fact - in different businesses), and would occasionally insert a casual remark into the context of whatever we were discussing, just to see if I was really paying attention to him, and if I was, would usually follow up with a smile and a line, like, "Well, my boy, that just might be one you'll want to look back on, some day..."

Among the many deeply insightful hints he'd dropped, back then, were

A) "Think smaller... and less...",

B)  " 'Who knows who' knows where for you", and

C) "Hmm... where do you think the flamingos will migrate to, this year?".

By these lessons, he was teaching me that I should  A)  think of ways to market myself to smaller, more specific target audiences, rather than larger ones...  B)  introduce myself to folks who were either decision makers or "social butterflies" (to whom others are drawn, since they'll tend to be outstanding referral sources), and  C)  pay more attention to the social behaviors and activities that are currently "in vogue" around me, since they will invariably inform me of where my marketing efforts will have the greatest impact, relative to the time and/or money invested into them.

Just as he was generous enough to take me under his wing, at a time when I was in truly desperate need, I'm sharing these with you -- "paying it forward". (And really, Jessica, how does it get any better than that?)

She absolutely does have the right to refuse to work on him; it's written into the regulations in most states. 

But, honestly? My first inclination is to say that this is a lot of hullabaloo for nothing.  He is 80 years old; his sex life is a pleasant memory, and Jessica is pretty, and young, and he can get her goat easily.  One of the school instructors related her experience with an old fart with roaming hands and a twinkle in his eye.  She said treat him as she would have a boy out on a high school date: defuse it...slap his hands and scold him.  Tears fuel the libido that still pumps adrenalin into the old coot's brain.  and check his chart  for telephone numbers of family, and call.  His wife, or daughter or sister will spank him, tell him to behave. 

If he reacts physically to the hand slap, scream your fanny off and bring it to a head. 

We males sometimes have to deal with the roaming hands, too, you know--from gay men and lonely women.  The first time it happens, I merely move my body out of reach; the second time I step back and scold, "any more of that, the session will end." 

Now, the above was my  first reaction, but I don't judge you: I have never met the man, and some people are not emotionally able to handle such a situation well--evidently you react to it with fear.  You're a massage therapist; I suspect that you are stronger physically than an 80 year old.  But if you truly fear for your safety in that treatment room, then you are right to refuse to treat him--and you do have the right.  In fact, MT regs require you to refuse to treat anyone who uses inappropriate conduct.  BTW, whether it is employer or customer or grocery store clerk, that uninvited touchie-feelie thing he's doing is legal sexual harassment.

Finally, once more I reiterate that the simplest way to handle it is to respond to his "good natured teasing" (that's probably what he considers it to be) with a teasing attitude of your own.  Ask the other girl how she handled the old fart.

 

I think its different for a women, younger women perhaps?....I remember in the spa a while back.  One of the female clients had a guy that started playing with himself in front of her.. I heard about it about an hour after it happened.. I met the female therapist.. I was laughing about it...I remember when some guy did that to me...I felt no threat what so ever..I just thought to my self.. What an idiot..Whats he think?  But my laughter stopped as soon as I realized how frighted she was...she wasn't laughing.. she was still shaking visibly upset...Now the next day she was fine...but for that one day she wasn't...But the thing is, she got everyones support...from her co-workers , management, and owners.. She was a good therapist, and they valued her work.  She was the therapist I went too.

Gary W Addis said:

She absolutely does have the right to refuse to work on him; it's written into the regulations in most states. 

But, honestly? My first inclination is to say that this is a lot of hullabaloo for nothing.  He is 80 years old; his sex life is a pleasant memory, and Jessica is pretty, and young, and he can get her goat easily.  One of the school instructors related her experience with an old fart with roaming hands and a twinkle in his eye.  She said treat him as she would have a boy out on a high school date: defuse it...slap his hands and scold him.  Tears fuel the libido that still pumps adrenalin into the old coot's brain.  and check his chart  for telephone numbers of family, and call.  His wife, or daughter or sister will spank him, tell him to behave. 

If he reacts physically to the hand slap, scream your fanny off and bring it to a head. 

We males sometimes have to deal with the roaming hands, too, you know--from gay men and lonely women.  The first time it happens, I merely move my body out of reach; the second time I step back and scold, "any more of that, the session will end." 

Now, the above was my  first reaction, but I don't judge you: I have never met the man, and some people are not emotionally able to handle such a situation well--evidently you react to it with fear.  You're a massage therapist; I suspect that you are stronger physically than an 80 year old.  But if you truly fear for your safety in that treatment room, then you are right to refuse to treat him--and you do have the right.  In fact, MT regs require you to refuse to treat anyone who uses inappropriate conduct.  BTW, whether it is employer or customer or grocery store clerk, that uninvited touchie-feelie thing he's doing is legal sexual harassment.

Finally, once more I reiterate that the simplest way to handle it is to respond to his "good natured teasing" (that's probably what he considers it to be) with a teasing attitude of your own.  Ask the other girl how she handled the old fart.

 

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