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She Was Denied a Promotion, but It’s What Came Next That Really Hurt…

Her boss went for an outside hire—then had him implement her ideas!




JUNE HAD BEEN a receptionist at Emerson Optometry for four years. While she was only in her mid-20s, she developed a passion for the field. Work wasn’t just a way to pay the bills, it was a fulfilling career.

Richard the office manager frequently complained about his workload. The doctors had just agreed to hire an assistant manager, so that weekend June spent hours preparing an application. In addition to updating her resume, she created a three-page outline of specific suggestions: workflow improvements, streamlined intake forms, EHR modifications, VoIP phone lines, and much more. Monday morning she handed her packet to Richard, who was surprised and pleased she had decided to apply.


Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.


NATALIE TAYLOR is owner of Artisan Eyewear in Meredith, NH. She offers regional private practice consulting and ABO/COPE approved presentations. Email her at

Two weeks later Richard and the doctors held interviews for four finalists in one afternoon; June was the only staff member to apply so they scheduled her first.

“June, you have some fantastic ideas here,” said Richard, holding her outline. “Obviously you have an excellent understanding of your department. Tell me, what would you do about the inventory issues in optical?”


“Uh…” June was caught off-guard. “I don’t think I really know the details of that?”

Richard nodded. “How about that big backlog of insurance claims?”

June blushed, her eyes shifting between the doctors and Richard. “I don’t think I know enough to answer that either; it isn’t something I’ve done myself.”

The interview mostly went well, but she spent the evening beating herself up over those fumbles. The next afternoon Richard pulled her aside.

“June, we are so glad you applied,” he began. “We made an offer to an outside hire, a licensed optician named Greg who just moved here from out of state. It ultimately came down to experience.”

June was crushed. “I understand,” she said weakly.


“His first day is tomorrow. I’m going to have him shadow you on the front desk from 10-12 p.m., okay?” Richard said, patting June’s shoulder.

The next morning Greg made his way to June’s desk. He sat awkwardly behind her, stuffed in the corner: in his late 40s, overdressed, reeking of cologne.

“So,” said June, trying to break the silence, “Richard says you’re a licensed optician. That’s pretty cool.”

“Well, actually,” Greg said with a chuckle, “Don’t tell the patients this, but I was licensed in my home state. It lapsed in 2018 — but I would have to do that paperwork again here anyway.”

“Oh,” she said flatly.

“Richard said he wanted me to set up VoIP for the office,” he said. “He told me to talk to you about it?”


What?!” June exclaimed. “Uh, I’ll be right back, can you just… just wait here, okay?” She abandoned the desk and went to find Richard, in his office.

“Hey, Richard, so uh, do you know Greg isn’t actually licensed?” she blurted. “And he said you wanted me to help him with VoIP, which was my idea?”

Richard put a hand over the new hire paperwork in front of him and cleared his throat. “He’s a licensed optician. There’s no reciprocity between states so he has to do some paperwork. Trust me, Greg is very qualified. I know this is hard for you, but sour grapes aren’t going to help anyone.”

The Big Questions

  • Is it wrong of Richard to use June’s ideas, or should applicants expect this result?
  • If you were June, would you blow the whistle on Greg’s expired license?
  • What are some steps managers can take to protect the feelings of passionate employees when they get disappointed?
David Gr.
Newport Beach, CA

Unfortunately June had a bad interview. We’ve all had them. She did not have the answers to the points Richard had on hand. Richard saw the bulk of her ideas as secondary to the issues of inventory and insurance backlog. She failed to answer these main points, so he disregarded her application. This kind of position absolutely should go to someone who is qualified. Greg does seem like an odd hire, but I do not see any issue with Greg working as an optician, as long as he is not claiming he is licensed. Likewise Richard cannot address him as such.

I think it is important to create growth in the office. It is very easy to become crushed, but a reminder of how they have grown in their job is often enough to bring a lift back to a person’s day. Richard should have thanked June for her VoIP suggestion, and then left it at that. There was no need to involve her after the fact, as it comes across as disrespectful.

Emily J.
Austin, TX

The manager shouldn’t be hiring someone with outdated credentials. If it is necessary to hire someone with a license, they should hire correctly. If the problem is a learning curve, they should’ve invested in their own employees.

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