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How can I change my employment status from "terminated" to "resigned?"

Wednesday August 29, 2012
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I recently was “terminated" from my job of 13 years and am wondering if I have any legal justification to have my status changed? First, I told them I wanted to resign, and they refused me that right. Then, they wrote lies on the notice of termination. For example, they stated I failed to check a patient’s wound, but on the chart it is written what kind of laceration it was, that the dressing was dry and intact and the patient denies any loss of consciousness.

Without any warning, this facility recently has been getting rid of seasoned employees to replace them with cheaper new graduates.

They also stated I refused to change, but after they discussed not getting temperatures on patients at triage, I began getting FULL assessments on all the patients I triaged. When I asked them whether they had reviewed the charts after our discussion, they said, “yes, we noticed you did get full assessments.” Isn't that libel because they lied? I just want my record changed to “resigned.”

Carol Lynn



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Carol Lynn,

It probably will be difficult to get your status changed from "terminated" to "resigned" on your own. It sounds as though there were relationship problems at your job, and your exit certainly reflects this.

Whether their comments meet the definition of libel is not answered easily with the general information you have provided. Libel occurs when someone writes something untrue about you (in this case, in your professional capacity as an RN) and publishes it to another. However, there are exceptions to libel. For example, if one has a duty to speak to another about an individual (in this case, say your nurse manager to the director of nursing), then even if it turns out not to be true, it is not considered libel. There are requirements for this exception to apply.

It also sounds as though your pointing out errors or mistakes alleged by your superiors in the patient care situations was acknowledged as error or there was documentation about their concerns. Perhaps there were other reasons you were "terminated" that need legal analysis (e.g., your "seasoned" age)?

In order for you to get a specific opinion about your termination and the way it occurred, it would be best for you to consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who can evaluate the situation in its entirety and guide you as to how to proceed.

Regards,
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.