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Do I have any recourse if my supervisor fired me three years ago without following hospital protocol?

Wednesday October 9, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

On August 2010, I was fired from my job because the nurse director did not like my attitude, and she did so without any oral or written notice first, as stated in the hospital rules. She just called me into her office and told me to leave and never enter the building again. I should have gone through the hospital grievance procedure, but I was so devastated. I did not know what to do.

This director has since been fired. Last year, I spoke to Human Resources about getting my job back, and was told if I worked somewhere for one year, then I would be considered. Come November, it will be a year for me at another position, so I called and was given a rehire form to complete. I did so and still was not rehired. My reason for wanting to return is the ER is it is within walking distance from the condo I purchased to be near work and where I planned to work until retirement.

If I hired a lawyer, would that help me get the job back? I also would like a copy of my personnel file, which I am being denied. Could a lawyer obtain my file for me? How could I find a lawyer specific
for nurses?

Fiorella



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Fiorella:

Your question about consulting with a nurse attorney or attorney who can help you sort out the legal issues in this matter is a good decision. The attorney can inform you about what the law is in your state concerning obtaining your personnel file and advising you if there are any causes of action you might be able to bring against the ED. One hurdle you will have to overcome is the length of time that has passed since your termination. This may or may not be a problem based on your state's law(s), but the sooner you consult with an attorney the better it will be for you.

Your situation is one that illustrates that in today's world it is difficult to count on staying at one job until retirement. Back in the day, a nurse could count on having a successful career in one workplace. With the rapid changes that are taking place in healthcare, that goal of staying at one job for your career is probably pretty unattainable.

You can locate a nurse attorney in your area through The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (http://www.taana.org ). On the association's homepage, click on "Attorney Referral.” Once on that page, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the search link to find a nurse attorney in
your area.

There are other ways of locating a nurse attorney or other attorney as well. You can contact your state or local bar association referral service and ask for representation from an attorney who works with employees. Many attorneys also have websites that provide information about their services. Simply do a Web search such as, "nurse attorneys in (state or city) that represent employees or former employees.” You should find many attorneys listed so you can start your search.

Sincerely,
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.