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Reflect On This: Ex-Employee Accuses Dr. Phil Of False Imprisonment

A former employee of The Dr. Phil Show is suing Dr. Phil, alleging false imprisonment and wrongful termination.

In the lawsuit, the woman describes an incident in which Dr. Phil called a meeting of over 300 staff members, locked them in a room and subjected them to a barrage of verbal attacks. She states he was furious about secrets that had been disclosed to the public and forced everyone to hand in their phones for inspection. Dr. Phil allegedly used security guards to prevent anyone from leaving the room until he found the information he was seeking.

The woman claims the incident resulted in "emotional distress from the verbal assault of Dr. Phil which was magnified by the confined space." She says the experience was consistent with constructive discharge. Jack Bowen "Dr. Phil sued by former employee for false imprisonment, wrongful termination," nanonews.org (Jan. 21, 2016).


The act of false imprisonment involves the unlawful restraint of another individual without legal justification. It must be intentional and without the consent of the individual.

Proving a claim of false imprisonment will ultimately come down to one question: were employees allowed to leave the room or were they held against their will physically (a locked door or security guards) or by threat of physical harm?

If there was no physical barrier or physical threat preventing employees from leaving the room and the threat by Dr. Phil was “leave the room and you will be terminated,” that is not false imprisonment, especially for at-will employees. The employee would not have a strong argument or facts to support the false imprisonment claim.

Compelling employees to a search of phones could also present an invasion of privacy concern unless the Dr. Phil owned the phones.

What do you think of Dr. Phil’s alleged actions? False imprisonment? Invasion of privacy? Tell us what you think. Let us know on our Facebook page.


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