Who in business has not taken a knock or two? The same applies bureaucratically. Local, state and federal government departments are probably sued more than private businesses, not to mention maligned. Obviously in a world where every story has at least 3 sides, much of what we hear fails the test of legitimacy.
So what is the best response when a small or even medium sized business owner has to deal with a former employee who launches a semi-aggressive and illegitimate campaign against you? Further, what form may many of these attacks take?
Here are three, (3) principled approaches that must characterize every response:
- Take a deep breath and strategize. This time of thinking should consider whether the matter merits a response, should the response be official, i.e. from a legal representative, and what is the potential danger if ignored.
- Piggybacking on number 1 above, think about the potential damage which must include where the attack is occurring. Is this person using social media to wage this war of slander, etc? This will influence how you respond and to what extent.
- Decide to what extent you can get out in front of any potential foolishness
Here is an example. A client of our sister firm was developing an adult day care program. He employed a registered nurse on a part-time basis to not only satisfy regulatory requirements but to benefit from whatever clinical competence she could bring.
The program had not yet become a Medicaid enrolled provider. This nurse asked for an immediate shift to full-time work. Considering the program was still in its embryonic stages it was explained that she had agreed to a part-time schedule and that a full-time schedule for her could not be afforded. The relationship ended; well sort of.
Soon after, she was asked to return policy manuals she held belonging to the program. She agreed only if she could receive money. After our client wrote her a check she released the manuals or policy books. Shameful behavior. This was after she had called to request money to handle her personal utilities.
Within a few days she was making fraud complaints to Medicaid authorities in their state. Of course, this center was not even Medicaid enrolled. She alleged, as reported by those to whom she repeated her intentions, that the center was forging previous program participant sign-in sheets to give the impression that someone attended the program when they did not. This too was a bogus claim.
The center had experienced vandalism and a burglary wherein appliances and more, (including refrigerator, washer, dryer and 7 televisions) were stolen. Documentation was destroyed. Soon the sensible thing to do was use your best judgment after consulting with applicable family members and guardians to rebuild the sign-in logs from months past. Since those attending were not billed (they attended at no cost) and Medicaid was not involved, where could there be fraud? Absolutely ridiculous considering future Medicaid enrollment did not hinge on the participation of these couple of attendees.
Here is another way to look at it: Let’s say a group living program did not maintain medication logs. It would be foolish to allow them to remain missing or damaged. How do you handle? You use your best judgment, conduct an inventory of current medications on hand, consider the dates the prescription was last filled and you can deduce how much medication was administered over a certain period of time. The same procedure applies if there is a fear of missing medication. Its not an attempt to deceive, but rather to establish needed documentation for the benefit of all involved.
Back to the adult day care false reports and the approach taken. Medicaid was immediately notified of the entire matter. They were even given a copy of the check she cashed that was provided in exchange for her return of the policies which reflects someone’s character and motives. This is called “getting out in front“. Believe it or not, this happens with more frequency than you might imagine and some will claim they are making these reports to simply protect their credentials when in actuality it is simply the sour grapes of a vindictive person. They do not need protection but others need protection from their behavior!
While it is true that being a reactionary for the sole purpose of reacting to anything is unhealthy at best, there are occasions when we need to do so. However, we need to react with a purpose, i,e. to preserve reputations, to educate regulators, to make accusers know their actions are being monitored, to end-run potentially unnecessary regulatory action, to get your side on the record, etc. And yes, sometimes litigation for slander or libel is warranted; or maybe even a police report to notify local authorities of extortion attempts!
What can become truly dangerous is allowing it to occur without any response, especially if the potential for harm is real.
We all have to take our knocks; let’s just be sure we respond and do so appropriately, timely, within the bounds of the law and with specific goals in mind. The matter is not closed until all of this is accomplished and the behavior ceases.
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Another Blog Post provided by Child Care Training & Resource Center, Inc. and its affiliates. Photos and other images used are for the sole purpose of complementing written material and are not designed to imply or suggest an affiliation with or support by any individual or organization.