Top 10 Reasons We Get Fired: Freedom of Speech

by madwife2002 6,119 Views | 18 Comments Senior Moderator

I believe in freedom of speech, when I was a manager I would allow the staff to come to me and vocalize any issues or workplace problems they may experience. Something which has rarely been offered to me! I do not believe there is tolerance in healthcare for 'freedom of speech'

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    Top 10 Reasons We Get Fired:  Freedom of Speech

    Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws.

    9) Freedom of Speech in Health care

    We are brought up to believe that we are entitled to speak our mind and express our concerns, and that by doing this we are protected by law. In school we are actively encouraged to participate in debates, which will help prepare us for critical thinking, effective communication, and teamwork.

    What really happens in the real life workplace, does this education regarding 'The First Amendment' allow us to function as we have been taught, encouraged and practiced in schools/colleges/universities?

    In a word ‘No’ ‘Freedom of Speech’ is not about the workplace, it simply does not happen, you cannot debate at work issues you do not like or approve of.

    Once upon a time, I honestly believe we did have more freedom to express our opinion; it was accepted, expected but managed in an ineffective way. It resulted in bullying, passive aggressiveness, racism, sexism and the list goes on and on. As a result, strict rules and regulations have been implemented into the workplace. These rules although needed, are so narrow and strict; they can play right into the hands of the management, and can be used to quiet a restless workforce. Although you may not get fired for expressing your opinion in a healthcare environment, your card may be marked.

    Have you ever noticed that Management always remembers something you said eons ago?
    Have you ever noticed a throw away remark you made can come back and bite you?
    Have you ever noticed they always remember word for word, something you said and can ‘Quote’ you on it!

    I remember years ago I was in a situation where I couldn’t find the crash cart as it had been moved the previous day from the home it had lived for the past few years. Eventually I located the cart, but when I questioned my co-workers nobody knew it had been moved and it freaked me out how dangerous that could have been in an emergency situation. Later on that day I had a discussion with my manager about the fact that the code cart had been moved and nobody knew where it was. Due to this conversation, an email went out to inform everybody where the new home was for the cart.

    Weeks later I was taken into the managers office and told my tone was not appreciated the day I informed her about the day the crash cart had moved! Really! Managers can be like elephants they never forget anything! I did not perceive that my manner was rude or abrasive that day as my personality is intense but normally I am not rude.

    So being safety conscious was not appreciated but the fact I had pointed out that there was a potential risk problem on a cardiac floor was perceived as inappropriate.

    Being called into 'The Office' can be a terrifying experience it is rarely to say you did something wonderful, it is normally to point out something you didn’t do well, and so begins the paper trail.

    What is the paper trail, it is evidence of discussions with you about you! When a manager is actively trying to get you fired on anything other than horrendous errors in practice, they need a paper trail. The paper trail can include crucial conversations, emails, hand written notes and anything that anybody else has documented about you!

    When trying to terminate somebody who just is not the right fit, it is not as easy as saying ‘your fired’ there has to be carefully prepared behind the scenes documentation.

    In today’s world we rely heavily on technology, emails and text messages can get us into a heap of trouble. Not only can they get us into hot water, they are there in cyberspace for infinity. How many times have you sent off a quick email, only to be told by the person receiving it that they don't like your tone.

    Emails have tones? Note to self-read a book on Email Etiquette

    I have myself been subjected to a closed-door conversation about emails; did I mean to sound argumentative in an email? Maybe, maybe not, sometimes it is a quick way of informing something to somebody, that you think they should know. A quick way of covering your back!

    Have you ever noticed when called into ‘The Office’ for a closed-door conversation, you immediately become defensive! So without even thinking your body language is ‘fight fight fight’ your back is squared and you face your opponent straight on!

    The tone, intonation and stress in your conversation can be perceived as argumentative but you believe you are going into fight to save your life, or your job! Do not say anything you will regret! Keep your statements short and sweet-do not throw anybody under the bus. Ask for time to compose yourself.

    I can assure you ‘Freedom of Speech’ simply does not happen in the workplace! Or does it?

    Remember ‘just breathe’

    The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals".

    1. ^ Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by UN General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, entry into force 23 March 1976
    Jump up 
^ "Using Courts to Enforce the Free Speech Provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights", Ambika Kumar, Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Summer 2006).
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 13, '13
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    madwife2002 joined Jan '05 - from 'Ohio'. madwife2002 has '24' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'RN, RM, BSN'. Posts: 9,477 Likes: 5,211; Learn more about madwife2002 by visiting their allnursesPage


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    18 Comments so far...

  4. 19
    The right of freedom of speech....unfortunately doesn't have freedom of consequences...as I have learned the hard way....lOL
    Dazglue, SouthernBelle14, Kooky Korky, and 16 others like this.
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    Me too, Esme12!
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    Count me in too Esme12. I once got talked to about my tone in an email. I realize I was probably rude. After I spoke to our scheduler about 5 times to tell her the day and time of a monthly meeting I had enough. I bold printed something in an email and she got her feathers ruffled. I told her I only did it because she just didn't get it.
    madwife2002 and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    What a surprising number of people don't seem to understand is that the First Amendment means (only) that the government can't restrict your speech (and there are even some limits/restrictions that the government can set, as determined by the Supreme Court over the years). Employers are certainly welcome to, and have pretty obvious, clear limits on what you can and can't say at work.
    bebbercorn, chare, Reader007, and 15 others like this.
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    2nd Elkpark. Freedom of Speech applies to the government, not employers, not websites. And the government historically violates that constitutional amendment anyway (McCarthyism, anyone?) so thinking that you can say whatever you want without consequences in any situation is just incredibly naïve.
    martinalpn, jtmarcy12, VickyRN, and 1 other like this.
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    I am fighting this paper trail and problems to the max. My manager "doesn't remember" so often I got a recorder. Then I am "untrustworthy" because I want proof. It is a small nursing staff and the accusations fly. When they had another nurse to blame it was ok for me, but now I am the one they blame. I won't take it and correct and there is always another way around. The supervisor worked the clinic the other day and did the same action I was written up for. There isn't much winning, but that write up quoted nursing board regulations and I want her to retract this. This is going to be really hard to counteract.
    madwife2002 likes this.
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    "Weeks later I was taken into the managers office and told my tone was not appreciated the day I informed her about the day the crash cart had moved! Really! Managers can be like elephants they never forget anything! I did not perceive that my manner was rude or abrasive that day as my personality is intense but normally I am not rude."

    This is a very legitimate issue and highlights one of my major gripes, as a newer nurse, from what I've experienced so far of nursing. When policies and procedures are based off of people's feelings, this kind of nonsense happens. Productivity gets demolished because you're supposed to be worrying about other's feelings while you say what you do. Sometimes things HAVE to be said in a tone that will annoy others, because you need to get the point across. Someone could have died over this.

    I am glad that we've differentiated between what you're allowed to say in the workplace and what the government is supposedly allowed to let you do. One of the problems that I see is that policies from the government has made the workforce so 'politically correct,' especially in nursing, that every little thing you say and do can be used against you in one way or another by anyone else looking to get back at you. If someone above you doesn't like you, or if there's somehow a threat of a lawsuit, you are in serious jeopardy. Job security is dead. As nurses we have to play the game to protect ourselves, but simultaneously, hopefully we all have the integrity to not attack a coworker the second they 'offend' us over something that is not ultimately a big deal.
    martinalpn, IowaKaren, TC3200, and 1 other like this.
  11. 1
    persons misunderstanding of "tone", or the outright purposeful "misunderstanding" of tone goes on right here at AN.
    canoehead likes this.
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    Quote from madwife2002



    Emails have tones? Note to self-read a book on Email Etiquette



    .
    What?!!! YOU DID NOT KNOW THAT?

    That was me deliberately being sarcastic and shouting at the same time.
    Yes, emails have tones.
    bebbercorn and hiddencatRN like this.


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