Record of harassment (hello again gwenith)

  1. Does anyone know the policy about keeping a record of unproven claims of harassment at their own hospital?

    I made some posts on this forum some time ago about my wife, who is a nurse in a Melbourne public hospital being falsely accused of bullying by another nurse and asked for your advice (titled Bullying & Promotion). A special thanks to gwenith and Token Male who helped a lot.

    The nurse who made the false claim against my wife is a known bully who left her previous hospital due to claims made against her by all of her staff and she now has had many complaints lodged against her from nurses and patients here. Two nurses have taken leave because of her and a cohort bully.

    HR advised my wife that the matter would not be pursued but that the claim would be held in a locked cupboard indefinitely and that should another claim be made against my wife it would "ring alarm bells". My wife saw this as a threat and asked for the claim to be destroyed or for the claim to be fully investigated. HR said that they are unable to destroy the claim due to policy and that they would not investigate further as the claimant has not requested it (refused mediation).

    HR policy is to place a proven claim in an offender's file and destroy it after 12 months if no further claims are lodged. A claim that is NOT proven, however, is placed in a locked cupboard in HR but held indefinitely.

    My wife asked, "Why is a proven claim destroyed after 12 months and an unproven claim held indefinitely?" to which HR replied " Some of the offenders were repeat offenders and also we need a record of how the matter was handled should a claimant take action against the hospital". She then asked, "Then why aren't the proven claims filed with the unproven claims after 12 months instead of being destroyed?" to which HR replied, "You should just move on and external counseling is available if you need it". My wife now thinks she is considered an "offender" in need of "counseling" and is really ticked off.

    Is this record keeping common policy in hospitals or is it just the policy at my wife's hospital?
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   gwenith
    Sorry to take so long to get back to you but I have been giving this careful thought - something about this smells. I personally would do the "little miss innocent" routine and sweetly and innocently ask to see the policy on harrassment/bullying charges. Bet you anything it does NOT state that this should be the case.

    Whenever anyone starts with statements like "you should just move on" these are red flags that THEY could not/would not be bothered following up on the problem. Your wife has a right to have her name cleared of all charges.

    I would also be talking to the union - not yet asking for action - simply talking to someone at the union. This does not sound like the common method of conflict resolution and I would think that the union would be very interested.
  4. by   Grace Oz
    Have your wife contact the state nurses board, requesting an appointment with a legal officer. Advise her to provide a FULL written account of ALL the allegations, incidents, events, which she has been associated with in relation to this matter/hospital. Seek the nurses board position on this matter, obtain their advice. And.... Document... document... document!! Remember....
    "If it isn't written, it didn't happen!". ALWAYS DOCUMENT!

    Also, as Gwenith suggests, contact the nurses union, (usually the ANF, Australian Nursing Federation), in your state. Request an appointment with the legal officer there also. DON'T just discuss ANY of it over a phone call! Request an actual face to face appointment. Take a support person along....ALWAYS!
    And, again..... DOCUMENT...DOCUMENT...DOCUMENT!

    If your wife gains no satisfaction from the suggested avenues, or the hospital itself, write to your state MP if necessary, and/or the Department of Human Resorces in your state government, requesting this matter be dealt with in an appropriate fashion. Challenge and question the hospital's policy on this matter. Be sure to also provide a suggestion for a solution to anything you are bringing into question.

    When the "Standover tacticians/bullies", within the nursing workforce are allowed into positions of power, they gain free reign to perpetrate their evil onto anyone they so choose. And, sadly, are often never held accountable. They position themselves into employing strategies designed to intimidate, humiliate, divide and conquer. The person/s, at their "mercy" need to be strong, educate themself, (knowledge is power!), and be preapred to fight the hard fight.

    You can always seek the advice of an independent solicitor & see how far you can take this matter. You do not have to just accept what they are saying!

    Good luck!
    Cheers,
    Grace
  5. by   Husband
    Thanks.

    The matter has been tabled at the ANF along with other related matters at the request of other nurses.

    The policy I outlined IS the official (written down) policy at her hospital. My wife asked for HR to confirm the reason they gave for the policy in writing but they refused. It took about a week to answer her so they probably didn’t have a reason until my wife asked.

    My wife will go to an external solicitor soon and use all avenues suggested regardless of how long it takes. The more trouble she causes the better as both the bullies and HR treat her very differently now.
  6. by   gwenith
    Glad to hear this - tell her that we are all behind her and are willing to give whatever support she needs. Fingers and toes crossed for her but tell her to remember to always give HRM an "out" - do not force the management into a postion where they will look bad - that will only come back to bite her. If she can work things so that they "save face" she will come out of this in a much much better position. Unfortunately the union and solicitors do not always think this way.
  7. by   Token Male
    I find this policy suspect in the extreme. Punish the trouble maker who has the nerve to stand up for themselves; I'm glad you have been to the ANF with this but I would like to know what the policy is in other hospitals: especially the one I work in. Listen to Grace, that all makes sense.
  8. by   Farkinott
    I just wanted to say thanks to the people helping out. I am absorbing your advice for if/when the same kind of s**t happens to me. Don't let yourself be undertrodden!
  9. by   Husband
    My wife asked HR again about the policy and they have now clarified the policy so that it makes a bit more sense.

    A substantiated claim is placed in the file of the respondent and destroyed after 12 months if no further claims are lodged. Copies of ALL claims, however, whether substantiated or unsubstantiated are kept indefinitely in a locked cupboard in HR.

    Who knows why they didn’t just say this straightaway, as it is consistent with the policy and procedures of other organisations. HR would need to keep a record of how all claims were handled as they can escalate to litigation.

    What this means to you nurses is that if you ever have a claim of harassment lodged against you, HR could use it in the future regardless of whether it was substantiated or unsubstantiated. As they said to my wife “It would ring alarm bells.” If it is a false claim made in bad faith as against my wife, then it is in your interest to not just be relieved as she was initially when HR said that it is unsubstantiated. You should request that the matter be fully investigated to prove your innocence then ask for a copy of their investigation and other documents to be held.

    In my wife’s case, it was obvious to all who knew both parties that she was innocent and set up but as harassment is a matter of perception, you need be absolutely positive that you are completely innocent of harassment before getting too indignant.

    HR didn’t consider my wife’s long perfect record or the well-known problems of the other party and they did not attempt to question any of the witnesses to the alleged incidents during their investigation. HR is to show my wife their investigation report held with the claim and response and hopefully this will satisfy her.

    How come there are no posts about the industrial action on this forum?
  10. by   Husband
    Hi, this is the wife writing now. I have been in the silent background until now and this is a rare thing as my husband keeps suggesting. He has always been my soul mate and tower of strength. Without him, I would never have got through this terrible ordeal.

    Today the HR department sent emails telling me to attend a seminar on a positive work environment. I have a few suggestions for them. I suggest they practise what they preach and encourage people to resolve conflict i.e. minor claims like mine that involve a grown person having a hissy fit to discuss problems with the person, or unit manager before running to management in a crying inconsolable state.

    The harassment officer said that you would wonder why one would do that. She was alluding that it was true. She doesn’t know this person who cries at the drop of a hat. People show their emotions in different ways and some perform and exaggerate.
    Last edit by Husband on Apr 23, '04
  11. by   scrubs70
    What really annoys me on all this, is the way they can sweep it under the carpet as unsubstantiated. Surely any claim should be investigated in it's entirety. All such claims should result in either - substantiated...action taken or - cleared.
    There should not be question marks left hanging over somebody, you are either guilty or innocent, not "oh well there isn't enough evidence but we will keep it hanging over your head just in case"
    I hope for your sake, somebody gets off there butt and follows this through.
  12. by   Husband
    Quote from Husband
    Hi, this is the wife writing now. I have been in the silent background until now and this is a rare thing as my husband keeps suggesting. He has always been my soul mate and tower of strength
    Hi wife!
    I’m printing and laminating this.
    By the way, I fixed your typos. Yes, I know I'm anal.
    Perhaps with all the night duty you do we can communicate here.
  13. by   scrubs70
    Quote from Husband
    Hi wife!
    I'm printing and laminating this.
    By the way, I fixed your typos. Yes, I know I'm anal.
    Perhaps with all the night duty you do we can communicate here.
    :roll
    You know your a nurse when the only conversation you have with your partner is on allnurses BB :roll
  14. by   gwenith
    As I posted before you might find it worthwhile to try to make it a win/win situation with HRM. THEY don't want to look silly and will blame you if you put them in that position - on the other hand you do not want to make it look like you are guilty. Pushing too hard could simply, by itself do that. Could be time to back off just a little to show that you are ameniable.

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