AAPC code of ethics

SienTC1720

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I have come to find in the past 5 or so years with my current employer, my "personality" isn't exactly what he would prefer. We are a small company, billing for a few providers in the area, hardly ever talk to patients themselves, just other office workers and insurance companies. There are only 4 of us, and no one other than us has ever come into the office, just us employees.

As a person in general, I am quite sarcastic, like to slip in silly or funny things here and there in conversation, and have never been one described as having a "clean" mouth. I have always been aware of this, and try my best to keep these attributes to myself as far as work goes. There have been a few instances when my boss has brought up, quoted, "used against me" the AAPC code of ethics. Also I am the only AAPC certified person in our office. Most of the times he has brought it up, aren't exactly work related. The few times it has been work related, I feel that our office, the lack of public interaction, only a few of us; doesn't exactly feel "applicable".

I would appreciate opinions on these instances, as I don't think the code of ethics really applies.

There are 3 of us in the office, no public interaction other than on the phone. Is my coming to work wearing jeans and sandals as unprofessional as he has made it out to be at times? Mind you, he generally wears sneakers, a t-shirt, pants that aren't jean colored, but aren't much different otherwise. I would like to hope since I now work at home, that I'm not expected to wear my finest attire, but I have a feeling he may disagree.

Also now that we are working at home, there are providers who's billing is my responsibility. Once a week or so, I go to his house to pick up things they have mailed to him. I do this either before work when I bring my kids to school, or on my lunch break, and it is simply grabbing an envelope from his front porch. Today in particular, I went during my lunch break. It has been rainy for a week or so here. With the sun shining today, I had my windows down, enjoying the weather, with music on in the car. When I returned home to continue work, I received a message from him in the application we use to discuss things during the day. "What the heck bass is that" which I replied "really wasn't that loud". He went on to then bring up professionalism and the code of ethics.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I wasn't under the impression the code of ethics really applied to my personal life, outside work. Don't get me wrong, I'm not out belligerently drunk, doing drugs, or getting arrested, or anything I would consider "low class behavior", but it seems he has a higher standard for people as a whole.

There have been other things here and there he has commented on, such as things I say if/when my kids call during work hours, even the fact that I have kids, and full time job or not, they are still a priority; especially when they are sick at school, get hurt and need medical attention, etc.

I would really appreciate any and all opinions, examples, etc. Please don't be afraid to correct me if I am wrong in any way, although it would be nice if it didn't come across as personal criticism.
 

SharonCollachi

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When you are picking up an envelope from him, you are working. You are representing the company. If he could feel your bass from inside his house, then it was too loud.

But let me back up a bit. Is there a dress code? Is it the open-toe shoes that he has a problem with? Ask him to get specific. I am a laid-back boss. When the doctor has a day off, and the office staff are still working, it is a casual day. We don't expect to see patients but occasionally one will come in for something. I have no problem with them seeing us casual, as we are not technically open. But what is YOUR boss's attitude? What does he expect from you? Are jeans okay as long as they are not blue? Do they have rips or tears? Do shirts need to have a sleeve or is a tank top okay?

I think he is not communicating well with you if he is using the "code of ethics" to justify his position. He needs to state clearly what he expects.

As far as the children go, that's a gray area. I would have to know the specifics to assess the situation.
 

SienTC1720

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When you are picking up an envelope from him, you are working. You are representing the company. If he could feel your bass from inside his house, then it was too loud.

But let me back up a bit. Is there a dress code? Is it the open-toe shoes that he has a problem with? Ask him to get specific. I am a laid-back boss. When the doctor has a day off, and the office staff are still working, it is a casual day. We don't expect to see patients but occasionally one will come in for something. I have no problem with them seeing us casual, as we are not technically open. But what is YOUR boss's attitude? What does he expect from you? Are jeans okay as long as they are not blue? Do they have rips or tears? Do shirts need to have a sleeve or is a tank top okay?

I think he is not communicating well with you if he is using the "code of ethics" to justify his position. He needs to state clearly what he expects.

As far as the children go, that's a gray area. I would have to know the specifics to assess the situation.
I don’t know if the bass he could feel, or just hear with his windows also being open. I drive a minivan and don’t have any sort of upgraded sound system, I’m mostly shocked it could be heard!
As far as dress code goes, there really isn’t one. This is a company his father started, the other woman who works there has been the only employee since the company started 20 or so years ago. A few years ago when I asked about taking time off for a family vacation, it was questioned a lot, noting that the other employee “only takes a week for the fair every year”. He then said I should create a company handbook, which I didn’t even know where to begin!
All of my previous jobs, there has been a certain accrued amount of time off, some sort of real calculation to it. It seems things like that are decided upon due to his current mood. I’m pretty sure most places, large or small, have a guideline of some sort, or at least allow employees who have worked there almost 10 years, one week and a couple days here and there, for time off.

As far as my kids go, that seems to also be up to his current mood. Him and the other woman don’t have kids, so I would like to think it’s just because they don’t know how it goes.
 

SharonCollachi

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Google "free employee handbook template" as a starting point. I think he is just making it up as he goes along without any real structure. So give him some structure!
 

csperoni

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To me what you are describing has little/nothing to do with the AAPC code of ethics, and rather company policy (or lack of). I have never worked for a company that did not have at least some simple handbook. It should define your benefits (health insurance, holidays, sick days, vacation days, maternity policy, etc), dress code, absenteeism, personal calls, and usually a bunch of legal type stuff about no harassment, confidentiality, etc.
In my opinion, every employer (regardless of size) has the right to require their employees to dress or behave a certain way while on the clock. As a manager, even if there are no patients scheduled, I don't like denim or sneakers (sneakers are OK with scrubs). Abhor flip flops, even if they are designer and leather with rhinestones. For employees working from home, they can wear whatever they want. If there is a scheduled video conference, I expect them to look presentable for whichever portions of them are visible on camera. If someone working remote stopped in the office for 2 minutes to pick up some papers, I would not hold them to the same dress code as someone working onsite. Not a bikini, but if it were jeans, or shorts (excluding daisy dukes), a t-shirt, for a quick pickup/dropoff, that would be OK.
While your employer has the right to have policies, it sounds like he does not have policies. If he asked you to come up with a handbook, I would do as Sharon suggested and google some ideas, and tweak to what works for you.
 

thomas7331

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I agree, this is largely outside of the scope of the Code of Ethics, though you may want to look at the section under 'respect' - https://www.aapc.com/aboutus/respect.aspx - as there's some good guidance there on professionalism and questions to ask regarding how you are handling yourself that might give you some insights into why your boss is bringing some of these things up. It sounds from the things you've described that this might be the main area that he could be referring to - it's possible he doesn't feel properly respected (which may or may not be justified).

But I agree with the posts above also in that this sounds mostly like a problem with lack of policy and insufficient clear communication about expectations - I've encountered this type of thing myself and it can be quite frustrating. You can take the lead on something like this though by sitting down with him for an honest and open discussion that could help to get some clarity around expectations. One of my former bosses called this 'managing up'. In other words, in situations where a boss isn't doing what's needed, an employee can actually influence a boss' behavior and help make changes just by taking the initiative, in a careful and respectful way, to show what kind of things are needed or might be helpful to make an improvement in the workplace. May not work with all personalities or in all situations, but it's something worth considering.
 

thranowski

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I would appreciate opinions on these instances, as I don't think the code of ethics really applies.

There are 3 of us in the office, no public interaction other than on the phone. Is my coming to work wearing jeans and sandals as unprofessional as he has made it out to be at times? Mind you, he generally wears sneakers, a t-shirt, pants that aren't jean colored, but aren't much different otherwise. I would like to hope since I now work at home, that I'm not expected to wear my finest attire, but I have a feeling he may disagree.

Also now that we are working at home, there are providers who's billing is my responsibility. Once a week or so, I go to his house to pick up things they have mailed to him. I do this either before work when I bring my kids to school, or on my lunch break, and it is simply grabbing an envelope from his front porch. Today in particular, I went during my lunch break. It has been rainy for a week or so here. With the sun shining today, I had my windows down, enjoying the weather, with music on in the car. When I returned home to continue work, I received a message from him in the application we use to discuss things during the day. "What the heck bass is that" which I replied "really wasn't that loud". He went on to then bring up professionalism and the code of ethics.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I wasn't under the impression the code of ethics really applied to my personal life, outside work. Don't get me wrong, I'm not out belligerently drunk, doing drugs, or getting arrested, or anything I would consider "low class behavior", but it seems he has a higher standard for people as a whole.

There have been other things here and there he has commented on, such as things I say if/when my kids call during work hours, even the fact that I have kids, and full time job or not, they are still a priority; especially when they are sick at school, get hurt and need medical attention, etc.

I would really appreciate any and all opinions, examples, etc. Please don't be afraid to correct me if I am wrong in any way, although it would be nice if it didn't come across as personal criticism.

I think a lot of your problem is that you are argumentative when what an employer usually expects is, "I understand, it won't happen again." The first time he mentioned your attire, that's what you should have said, and then never worn jeans and sandals again. When he asked about your music, you should have said, "I'm so sorry, I didn't realize it was that loud. It won't happen again." As far as your children go, there are discrimination laws that protect women in the workplace so I would review those and see what is expected of both you and your employer on that front. However, nearly every state is "at will" employment, which means that an employer can fire you for any reason, including wearing sandals and listening to your music too loud.
 

SienTC1720

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I think a lot of your problem is that you are argumentative when what an employer usually expects is, "I understand, it won't happen again." The first time he mentioned your attire, that's what you should have said, and then never worn jeans and sandals again. When he asked about your music, you should have said, "I'm so sorry, I didn't realize it was that loud. It won't happen again." As far as your children go, there are discrimination laws that protect women in the workplace so I would review those and see what is expected of both you and your employer on that front. However, nearly every state is "at will" employment, which means that an employer can fire you for any reason, including wearing sandals and listening to your music too loud.
You are absolutely right. My real issues is that these things sometimes feel personal, and I really shouldn’t let it have that effect on me. I should, have and do apologize when he brings up such things. 9 times out of 10, I’m sure it’s my reaction to what he says, maybe just the way he says it, that I get a bit sour about.

If nothing else, “at will” employment is what I need to keep in mind in any and all similar situations. In the grand scheme of the job, I really don’t have much, if any, room to complain.
 

sls314

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I agree with the others is outside the scope of the Code of Ethics. Most of what has been described are the type of issues that could be addressed in a company handbook.

I would also suggest that you consider looking for another job.

If the company culture there isn't a good fit for you, there are lots of opportunities out there for a coder/biller with 5 years of experience. You should try sending out a few resumes.

Who knows? You might find a fully remote position with a company that is a better fit for you. One with clearly defined expectations for employees.
 
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