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I complained about an unsafe staffing situation and not only did I get written up, but my manager is trying to terminate me. Is there any law that protects me?

Monday April 29, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I complained about an unsafe staffing situation, which has been occurring more often and not only did I get written up, but my manager is trying to terminate me. I have been a nurse for more than 20 years and have never been written up before. Is there any law that protects me?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Harriet,

Your description of your problem at your place of employment certainly sounds retaliatory. Whether or not your state provides protection for someone who complains of unsafe staffing, resulting in an increased risk of safety and well-being to the patient, is something that can only be determined by a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who works with nurse employees. If there is protection, it may rest in the state nurse practice act or a separate non-retaliation statute that applies to any employee who raises issues at work that affect the health and safety of other workers, staff or patients.

You did not say what you were written up for, but if it were a false allegation, this would be something the attorney would want to know. He or she may also discuss the importance of grieving the discipline, so as to make a record of your attempt to reverse it.

Share with the attorney the facts you have experienced about the attempt to have you terminated. Details such as who, what, when, where and how will be essential for the attorney, so a careful assessment of the circumstances surrounding this situation can be made.


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.