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My psychologist hired me, and manipulated me

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#1
I've been seeing the same LMFT for almost 25 years, since I was 19. after a year, he asked me to help open his private practice. (I'm an IT guy). About 5 years ago, he (the director, my therapist) asked me to take over the IT management for the business. He paid by check and issued me a 1099. At the same time, he stopped listing my appointments on his calendar and stopped taking notes for the session, both by myself, and with my wife.

On 12/22/2017, I was let go from my primary job. I stopped at the office to see if he had any appointments open because I was getting really depressed. It happened that he was free, and we started talking about my situation. Toward the end of the conversation, he mentioned that he was looking to retire, and wondered if I would take over as executive director of the nonprofit organization. (Nonprofit council center). I told him that I would need to think that through, as I have no experience in that field. He spent a few minutes using all the right words, and reminded me about my mother telling me that I can't do anything and that I need to prove her wrong. I stated that we would talk after the holidays.

On 01/11/2018, I met with him again, this time at a diner where he bought me breakfast. I was very unsure about taking the job, but by the end of the breakfast meeting he had me convinced that I can handle the job without issue. He would continue working as an LMFT, and I would be Exec. Director. I agreed to start work on 01/16/2018.

The full time employment was brief. Several issues arose very quickly. The previous office manager (his adopted son's wife) caused serious issues with the accounting data, and the first huge task was to work with the accountant to fix all of 2017 financial data before anything could be entered for 2018. Next issue was one of control. After a board of directors meeting where I was told to sign a document stating that I was the new director, and that he would receive an additional $6000 per month for 100 months, at which time he would retire from counseling. The document also stated that if I was to quit before the 100 months was complete, that the full $600,000 would become due immediately. The control issues continued, I was not permitted to make any changes that he didn't agree with. He would not sign the legal documents with the banks so that I could legally pay the bills and sign paychecks. He retained full control of everything, while I was forced to deal with all the crap that comes with the job. As Executive Director, I had to ask my subordinate to sign my paycheck. My income was also an issue. He spent a long time convincing me that the company is nonprofit and that the director doesn't make much, but I was desperate for income, so I accepted $3000/month, no medical, no retirement, no overtime, on-call 24/7.

I now believe that the $600,000 "buyout" coming due if I quit was specifically in this document to try and prevent me from quitting. The therapist knows from my sessions that I am incapable of reneging on a debt. Money was a huge issue. I was mislead about the company finances. While they are not in the red, they are certainly not getting ahead. Main issue was his salary. He has always stated that he is an unpaid board member and had never taken a director salary. However, with the additional $6000/month, insurance, and retirement, his gross income of $326,000/year is more than six times the gross income of the other LMFTs in the company. There was also an issue of no employee being permitted to have more than 36 hours a week, as to never pay for insurance. He even had the office staff limit the client bookings for other LMFTs so that they never hit full time.

The final straw was what I felt to be a serious legal issue. While not entirely the therapists fault, he's still part of it. At the start of May, I received a phone call from a county probation officer. (The company's primary income is court ordered anger management and domestic violence classes) The officer stated that a current client enrolled in a 52 week class was to be excused. I was told to report to the court that the client completed all classes, paid all fees, and was not a threat to reoffend. After the call I began the process. This is a normal thing. However, this client did NOT complete, did NOT pay, and was most certainly a threat. After speaking to the officer again, I stated that I can't provide that. He stated that I don't have a say in the matter, the probation department no longer wanted to deal with him, and the the former director (my therapist) has an agreement with them. After asking my therapist about this, he said that the situation was none of my business, and that I need to send the form to the court. I refused, so he filed it himself.

1 week later, I quit. While I didn't go about it nicely, I didn't do anything that would be threatening.

two days after that, he asked to see me in his office. We had a 60~90 minute closed door conversation. During which I noticed very quickly that he was using all of the keywords that he knows would trigger me. He pushed the narrative that all I was doing is proving my mother right, that I would never amount to anything, and that I fail at everything. After about 30 minutes of crying, it clicked that he was doing everything he could to get me to stay, even bringing up owning the $600,000. By the end of the conversation, he convinced me to stay on as the company IT manager. At that time I was left on payroll and pay reduced to $2000/month on call 8am to 9pm 6 days a week, plus all normal IT work.

The company now has a new director. She has been lying and manipulating the employees that she doesn't like, I believe in hopes of getting them to quit so that the company doesn't have to pay unemployment. This is standard practice for this office.

The new director asked me to provide her with all of the password and all makes/models/serials of ever piece of network equipment. I've been an IT guy for over 30 years, starting at age 15. I know what it means when the new boss wants that. It means that I'm being fired and replaced.

I asked her point blank if that was the case. I stated that I 100% understand, and that if she puts me in the room with the new guy, I will work with him to make sure it's a smooth transition. I stated the same to my therapist, who told me in a closed door session that I was *NOT* being replaced.

As part of my duties dealing with HIPPA security, I received an alert of motion in the office while the office was closed, and then a notification that files in my personal directory on the server were being accessed. Upon looking at the cameras, I saw the new director and the new IT guy accessing the servers. He also created a new admin account that triggered an alert that a backdoor was installed.

This brings us to yesterday. I got alerts of malicious activity on the server. I believe it may have been the new IT guy, but have no way to prove it, so I treated it as a breach and locked it down. I cleared the remote access trojan and tried to collect the needed information to report the breach. At this time the new director began harassing me saying that I'm locking her out.

-----

Sorry for the long story. Here is my question..

Do I have a legal case?
Should I sue?
Should I report him to the licensing board?

Thanks in advance.

DJ
 


#2
Case for what?

Sue for what?

Report him to the board....for what?

After wading through this very quickly, I'm sure you think it's all relevant, but it's not. Keep in mind that you are in an "at will" employment situation, where if they want to, any employer can legally fire you for just about anything. You are also free to quit at any time. It's legal for him to lie to you. It's legal for him to "trigger" you. It's legal for them to try to get employees to quit so they won't have to pay unemployment. Even if you report him to the board for misconduct, you'll never hear what the outcome was, will not learn whether he was investigated or not. Frankly, I do not see why there is any legal issue regarding your employment. You need to find both a new job and a new therapist and move on.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#3
I've been seeing the same LMFT for almost 25 years, since I was 19. after a year, he asked me to help open his private practice. (I'm an IT guy). About 5 years ago, he (the director, my therapist) asked me to take over the IT management for the business. He paid by check and issued me a 1099. At the same time, he stopped listing my appointments on his calendar and stopped taking notes for the session, both by myself, and with my wife.

On 12/22/2017, I was let go from my primary job. I stopped at the office to see if he had any appointments open because I was getting really depressed. It happened that he was free, and we started talking about my situation. Toward the end of the conversation, he mentioned that he was looking to retire, and wondered if I would take over as executive director of the nonprofit organization. (Nonprofit council center). I told him that I would need to think that through, as I have no experience in that field. He spent a few minutes using all the right words, and reminded me about my mother telling me that I can't do anything and that I need to prove her wrong. I stated that we would talk after the holidays.

On 01/11/2018, I met with him again, this time at a diner where he bought me breakfast. I was very unsure about taking the job, but by the end of the breakfast meeting he had me convinced that I can handle the job without issue. He would continue working as an LMFT, and I would be Exec. Director. I agreed to start work on 01/16/2018.

The full time employment was brief. Several issues arose very quickly. The previous office manager (his adopted son's wife) caused serious issues with the accounting data, and the first huge task was to work with the accountant to fix all of 2017 financial data before anything could be entered for 2018. Next issue was one of control. After a board of directors meeting where I was told to sign a document stating that I was the new director, and that he would receive an additional $6000 per month for 100 months, at which time he would retire from counseling. The document also stated that if I was to quit before the 100 months was complete, that the full $600,000 would become due immediately. The control issues continued, I was not permitted to make any changes that he didn't agree with. He would not sign the legal documents with the banks so that I could legally pay the bills and sign paychecks. He retained full control of everything, while I was forced to deal with all the crap that comes with the job. As Executive Director, I had to ask my subordinate to sign my paycheck. My income was also an issue. He spent a long time convincing me that the company is nonprofit and that the director doesn't make much, but I was desperate for income, so I accepted $3000/month, no medical, no retirement, no overtime, on-call 24/7.

I now believe that the $600,000 "buyout" coming due if I quit was specifically in this document to try and prevent me from quitting. The therapist knows from my sessions that I am incapable of reneging on a debt. Money was a huge issue. I was mislead about the company finances. While they are not in the red, they are certainly not getting ahead. Main issue was his salary. He has always stated that he is an unpaid board member and had never taken a director salary. However, with the additional $6000/month, insurance, and retirement, his gross income of $326,000/year is more than six times the gross income of the other LMFTs in the company. There was also an issue of no employee being permitted to have more than 36 hours a week, as to never pay for insurance. He even had the office staff limit the client bookings for other LMFTs so that they never hit full time.

The final straw was what I felt to be a serious legal issue. While not entirely the therapists fault, he's still part of it. At the start of May, I received a phone call from a county probation officer. (The company's primary income is court ordered anger management and domestic violence classes) The officer stated that a current client enrolled in a 52 week class was to be excused. I was told to report to the court that the client completed all classes, paid all fees, and was not a threat to reoffend. After the call I began the process. This is a normal thing. However, this client did NOT complete, did NOT pay, and was most certainly a threat. After speaking to the officer again, I stated that I can't provide that. He stated that I don't have a say in the matter, the probation department no longer wanted to deal with him, and the the former director (my therapist) has an agreement with them. After asking my therapist about this, he said that the situation was none of my business, and that I need to send the form to the court. I refused, so he filed it himself.

1 week later, I quit. While I didn't go about it nicely, I didn't do anything that would be threatening.

two days after that, he asked to see me in his office. We had a 60~90 minute closed door conversation. During which I noticed very quickly that he was using all of the keywords that he knows would trigger me. He pushed the narrative that all I was doing is proving my mother right, that I would never amount to anything, and that I fail at everything. After about 30 minutes of crying, it clicked that he was doing everything he could to get me to stay, even bringing up owning the $600,000. By the end of the conversation, he convinced me to stay on as the company IT manager. At that time I was left on payroll and pay reduced to $2000/month on call 8am to 9pm 6 days a week, plus all normal IT work.

The company now has a new director. She has been lying and manipulating the employees that she doesn't like, I believe in hopes of getting them to quit so that the company doesn't have to pay unemployment. This is standard practice for this office.

The new director asked me to provide her with all of the password and all makes/models/serials of ever piece of network equipment. I've been an IT guy for over 30 years, starting at age 15. I know what it means when the new boss wants that. It means that I'm being fired and replaced.

I asked her point blank if that was the case. I stated that I 100% understand, and that if she puts me in the room with the new guy, I will work with him to make sure it's a smooth transition. I stated the same to my therapist, who told me in a closed door session that I was *NOT* being replaced.

As part of my duties dealing with HIPPA security, I received an alert of motion in the office while the office was closed, and then a notification that files in my personal directory on the server were being accessed. Upon looking at the cameras, I saw the new director and the new IT guy accessing the servers. He also created a new admin account that triggered an alert that a backdoor was installed.

This brings us to yesterday. I got alerts of malicious activity on the server. I believe it may have been the new IT guy, but have no way to prove it, so I treated it as a breach and locked it down. I cleared the remote access trojan and tried to collect the needed information to report the breach. At this time the new director began harassing me saying that I'm locking her out.

-----

Sorry for the long story. Here is my question..

Do I have a legal case?
Should I sue?
Should I report him to the licensing board?

Thanks in advance.

DJ
I see problems with the way the business is being operated but I do not see that you have a medical or health care malpractice action to pursue.

That said, you can review facts with an attorney in your area. I recommend if you meet with the attorney that you leave out all extraneous material and state only the facts. The attorney will ask for more information if more information is needed.

Good luck.
 
#4
I do see a possible issue with ethics of the therapist that could be an issue with their licensing. If it was me I would consider filing a complaint with the state regulating authority over the therapist.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#5
I do see a possible issue with ethics of the therapist that could be an issue with their licensing. If it was me I would consider filing a complaint with the state regulating authority over the therapist.
I am not seeing it as an ethics violation - at least, not based on what has been said so far.

Of course, by filing a complaint an investigation will ensue, so that is certainly one way to determine if there is any support for a lawsuit.

What is the name of your state, DJ?
 
#8
I am in California, which does not allow "dual relationships" with clients.
Maybe this isn't legal as much as ethics. In my very short time as director, I witnessed more than enough illegal activity for the finances.
My concern was his extensive use of intimate knowledge of my life to manipulate and control me.

I will certainly be filing a complaint with the state licensing board.
 
#9
Yes, the $600,000 is odd indeed. I've re-read the document several times and the language is vague enough that it implies that *I* personally owe that debt.
 

HRZ

Senior Member
#12
I doubt you are personally liable for $600,000 but I can envision an exit deal which is designed to be likely to trigger the organization to payout upon change of control ...and that's triggered if you leave.

You may have been played for a chump ...but that's not ilegal

About the only serious problem I see is cover-up of non service to non paying client and accepting public funds along the way ...and you want far away from that one.

I think you would be wise to move on and not look back......whether to just quit Or pray new director fires you w/o cause so as yo likely qualify for UC is a toss up...but I favor getting out soon

BTW I would have secure copies off all files safely off site under my control to the extent it is not illegal to do do.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#13
I doubt you are personally liable for $600,000 but I can envision an exit deal which is designed to be likely to trigger the organization to payout upon change of control ...and that's triggered if you leave.

You may have been played for a chump ...but that's not ilegal

About the only serious problem I see is cover-up of non service to non paying client and accepting public funds along the way ...and you want far away from that one.

I think you would be wise to move on and not look back......whether to just quit Or pray new director fires you w/o cause so as yo likely qualify for UC is a toss up...but I favor getting out soon

BTW I would have secure copies off all files safely off site under my control to the extent it is not illegal to do do.
A personal review by an attorney of what exactly was signed, and what the $600,000 is supposed to be for, seems necessary.

NO files should be copied - certainly not without asking an attorney about it first. Copying the files can lead to all sorts of bad things for DJ.
 
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