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I was fired after two years without cause, given a one-week severance package and asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement. What should I do?

Thursday May 26, 2011
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Dear Donna,

I have been a nurse for 22 years, mostly in home care pediatrics/NICU. I was recently fired from a clinical manager position and told that I was not "a good fit for the position" because I was "not flexible enough and lacked initiative." This is far from the truth, and the director with whom I worked for four months wrote a letter citing just the opposite.

I enjoyed what I did, and I did it well. I was given a severance package of one week's pay and medical insurance coverage for one week, if I agree to give up all rights to sue and agree not to disclose the contents of the severance package or speak to another employee of the company about what happened. I spoke with an employee relations representative, and I want to speak with the owner of the company. What should I do?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Alicia,

If I were you, I would consult a nurse attorney as soon as possible before signing anything. Any fees you pay this attorney will be worth it for your protection and peace of mind. Find a nurse attorney by asking around, by getting a referral through your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org), whether or not you are a member, or through The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (www.taana.org).

Your employer/union should have a grievance policy in place, too. You can and should follow that.

Sending prayers and good wishes your way,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.