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Do I have any type of legal recourse if my agency contact verbally misrepresented a travel position?

Friday August 23, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

The last agency I was employed with sent me on two awful assignments. The first I completed but refused to renew it. The second I accepted on a promise from the agency that it was a much better place to work, only to find out it was an even worse assignment than the previous one. I signed the contract prior to going to the assignment, but after completing the orientation and staffing for a few shifts, I realized this ER was in real trouble and verbalized my complaints to my agency contact. The agency contacted the hospital, and my contract was immediately terminated.

As per the contract, I was only paid minimum wage for the five shifts I was there. Do I have any type of legal recourse? What I was paid did not even cover my travel expenses.

Dan



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Dan,

The contract you entered into with the agency is what controls the situation you describe in your question. You would need to have it reviewed by a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who practices contract law and works with healthcare providers.

Signing a contract on oral promises that do not appear in the contract itself is very risky. Most contracts contain a clause that the contract language is what controls a particular situation and any oral or other types of agreements, promises or assurances are not a part of the contract. In other words, those types of assurances are null and void.

You might also want to consider not signing a contract for an assignment without first doing some type of exploration of the setting in which you will be working. What is its reputation? Have other agency nurses you know worked there? What was their impression?

Whether or not you would be able to be reimbursed for your travel expenses for the canceled assignment will be governed by the contract as well. The attorney with whom you consult can advise you about this possibility.

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.