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Because of the distance I live from the hospital, I would have to stay in a hotel to be on call, according to a new mandate. Can I refuse to do this?

Monday February 18, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I'm an OB/GYN nurse in a clinic. We were told we are mandated to now take call as surgery assistants. Because of the distance I live from the hospital, I would have to stay in a hotel from Friday to Monday. Do I have a right to refuse to do this?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Tara,

Little is included in your question about your employment status at your facility, so it is assumed you are an at-will employee and not a member of a union — or you are not working under a written employment agreement. If that assumption is correct, there probably is little you can do about the mandate. In other words you can refuse, but you may be terminated.

However, there may be room for negotiating some of the terms of the mandate. For example, will you be paying for the weekend stay at the nearby hotel or will the employer pick up the tab? What about food expenses? Do you need to be in the hotel at all times during the weekend, or are you free to do other things (e.g., go to a movie, etc.)?

You need to find out more about this arrangement before you decide on how to handle it. Asking administration and your chief nursing officer specifically would be a good start. If you are not comfortable in doing so yourself, discussing your concerns with a nurse attorney or attorney and having them obtain the details for you would be another option.


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.