The best defense against office harassment? Going on offense with an office policy

April 30, 2018
AOA Ethics Forum case study: Doctors of optometry liable for harassment-free workplace.
The best defense against office harassment

When is the last time you reviewed your policies on harassment and bullying in the workplace? Do you have a policy?

Those very policies and processes are explored in the newest case study on workplace harassment on the AOA Ethics Forum. For doctors of optometry, the answer to that question starts with a procedures manual for the office.

"A safe working environment for all employees reflects the standards and behaviors set by the doctor of optometry," says Morris Berman, O.D., M.S., dean of the School of Optometry, MCPHS University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and member of the AOA Ethics and Values Committee.

"It is essential to have effective communications with employees and an office policy handbook that explains standards of professional conduct and workplace expectations, and corrective actions," Dr. Berman says. "There are many good examples to draw from, and the draft should be reviewed by legal counsel or a consultant with expertise in human resources."

The Ethics Forum is a tool to encourage AOA members to ask questions and engage in discussions on ethical issues that they and their peers might be facing. Previous case studies have explored cell phone interruptions, reporting patient abuse and dismissing a patient.

Members may submit their questions or comment on other questions to the committee by sending an email to ethics@aoa.org. Questions will be presented as "case studies," and each study will include an online poll to encourage interaction and provide real-time survey results.

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