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I live in an at-will state and was recently fired for no known reason. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this and explain it to potential employers?

Wednesday July 11, 2012
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I recently was fired from a job for no known reason. Since I live in an at-will state, the hospital just stated they did not think I was a good fit for their facility. My opinion is, I was fired because I complained about unsafe conditions and nurses who were practicing medicine without a license. I approached the supervisor several times about unethical and illegal practices and met with stiff resistance. I then went to the DON with my concerns and two weeks later I was fired. Any advice on how to cope with this situation and how to explain the job loss when applying for jobs?

Nate



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Nate,

Your firing should be reviewed by a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who can evaluate the entire set of circumstances about which you complained and whether or not you were fired for sharing your concerns within the facility. Although you did not say you reported these concerns to any outside agency, if you did, that fact needs to be discussed with your attorney as well.

Being an at-will employee doesn’t have many protections, and "not being a good fit" is a common rationale for terminating employees. However, the at-will employment doctrine does not protect employers who use the doctrine as a pretext to terminate employees who raise illegal and unethical practice issues, especially if there are other state laws that protect such communication and make it illegal to separate them from their job involuntarily.

Sincerely,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.