Accused of Racism!

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    I'm so upset.. just walked in the door from working a night shift at a skilled long term care facility. I had a CNA working under me who had left a patient in a bed with urine until the urine had a yellow ring a round it. I instructed her to change the bedding and let her know that tolerate patients being I consider this kind of care unacceptable. I am brand new to the night shift. The CNA immediately accused me of being racist and "you're treating me like a black woman!"

    I let my DNS know this morning... of the lack of care that the CNA provided, of things not done during the shift, etc. The DNS told me that she is very nervous about the possibilty of an EEO suit and that I should "cover yourself really well".

    HELP!! This is a terrifing situation to me. I've worked as a nurse for over 2 decades and never been accused of racism. I don't think that there was anything in this situation that could have been construed as racism... but... what do I need to do to protect myself. What a nasty situation! What makes it even more frustrating is that this CNA frequently does very poor quality work and I've been trying to keep everything up beat and cheerful in the workplace. Now I don't know what to do!
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  4. 56 Comments so far...

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    Forgive me for posting without a proper introduction! I'll get to that in a second.

    I have no experience in this area at all - in fact, I'm just finishing up my last two prereqs and am beginning the application process, so I'm just a lowly pre-nursing student...but I have personally found myself in similar situations in professional settings. I just wanted to give you my sympathy and my support.

    I think “covering” for yourself would involve insuring there is adequate documentation of this person’s lack of skills – you should be sure you can show that this person consistently gives inadequate care. The disciplinary actions, if any, brought against this person should be shown to be equal to those given to others in similar situations.

    Things like this, in ANY professional environment, weaken both the institution and the individuals involved. Everyone ends up walking on eggshells - which can serve to empower the instigator!

    I’ll be thinking about you. You have my support.
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    You went up the chain of command after the event. That's your best defense right now. If you are 100% sure you made no racist statements and it can't be shown you treat this CNA any different than the others, then you're o.k.

    Rather than be afraid administration needs to stand up to this invidual and address her work-related issues. If there is no documentation, such as verbal warnings and write ups, then the case is weaker. You say she frequently does poor quality work, there should be warnings and write ups.

    Her response is racist and unacceptable. I hope things work out for you, and I'm sure they will. Providing your administration has backbone.
    Last edit by Tweety on May 31, '05
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    Let me begin by thanking you for being bold enough to speak up. Labeling someone as "Racist" today is worst than labeling someone as a communist in the 1950's. Then you have to prove you are not- how do you prove a negative! My advice is run....from the comments of your superiors it is obvious they put perception over truth. Find a new job, but if not document, document, document. It is a shame this cowardly CNA hides behind stereotypical paranoia. Good luck.
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    Well, now, be honest and tell us about your work environment (demographics of the people that work there, the area this place is located, the majority of the people that live in the area and etc). Is she the only African American employed at this facility. Who are your coworker's likely to side with or defend if this matter goes to court? why do you think she would accuse you of racism out of the blues? Did you ever slur or make any slight racial comments while joking with some of your other colleagues that this person could have overheard via rumor's? How often do you work with this employee and was she like this every time you worked with her? Did you make her chores that were not in her assignment? Did you ever confront her infront of everyone, which unprofessional? Are there other cna's who are not of African American descent's or origin that perform as poorly at work as well?
    I think the last question will be hard to escape because I know out of every 5 CNA's, two or three will perform poorly. Accusations are hard to prove and most of the time there are communication barrier's. Perhaps, the way you addressed this incident to the CNA could have been offensive. So, to avoid the chaos, if you are allowed to speak to this employee ask her what it's that made you look or sound racism towards her? You never know what it could be. You might realize that you said something, and there goes the "ohhh." so that could be your apology target or maybe not. Whatever you do, don't make the situation worse by arguing with this coworker because that will just make her despise you more.

    Maxs
    Last edit by traumaRUs on May 31, '05 : Reason: TOS
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    Document, document, document. Write a clear and concise version of what happened and what this CNA's response was to being told her patient care was not acceptable. I would maybe check around, sounds like administration will buckle if pressure is applied to them.
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    The facility I work in has a wonderful mix of ethnicity's and cultural backgrounds. I never make racial jokes including jokes such as "blond" jokes, so there has been nothing to over hear. I work with other CNA's (and nurses) of color, including African American and the atmosphere seems relaxed and comfortable to me.

    What I am perceiving is that I have a CNA who doesn't want to do her assigned tasks (which include providing incontinent care) for her residents and is willing to resort to name calling and something that will damage my career as a way of getting by with not doing her work. I have a patient who is intermittantly clear and lucid/ alternating with poor impulse control and confusion. He claims that he requested assistance putting some clothing on this morning (paralyzed on one side) and that this CNA told him he could "just do it himself"..... co incidentally he is caucasian........

    I feel that I have a responsibility to protect my patients from this CNA, but also to keep myself (and my reputation intact!) safe. I feel that my reputation has been threatened and that there was a certain amount of intended intimidation by the CNA towards me.

    Thanks for listening all.... I will continue to be open for suggestions dealing with this tough situation.
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    Quote from yaddadoit
    The facility I work in has a wonderful mix of ethnicity's and cultural backgrounds. I never make racial jokes including jokes such as "blond" jokes, so there has been nothing to over hear. I work with other CNA's (and nurses) of color, including African American and the atmosphere seems relaxed and comfortable to me.

    What I am perceiving is that I have a CNA who doesn't want to do her assigned tasks (which include providing incontinent care) for her residents and is willing to resort to name calling and something that will damage my career as a way of getting by with not doing her work. I have a patient who is intermittantly clear and lucid/ alternating with poor impulse control and confusion. He claims that he requested assistance putting some clothing on this morning (paralyzed on one side) and that this CNA told him he could "just do it himself"..... co incidentally he is caucasian........

    I feel that I have a responsibility to protect my patients from this CNA, but also to keep myself (and my reputation intact!) safe. I feel that my reputation has been threatened and that there was a certain amount of intended intimidation by the CNA towards me.

    Thanks for listening all.... I will continue to be open for suggestions dealing with this tough situation.
    Your work environment is good factor and since you honestly haven't said anything to offend her in anyway. I think you should get some people on your side and sue for character defamation.

    Maxs
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    Unfortunately, in certan areas where census majority are not African American you will come upon those who feel they have to protect their job like that. I think a lot of times in that respect it does become a protection mechanism.
    My facility is a good example, a CNA who was grandfathered in when the certification regs changed years ago. She does as little as possible (to the point they wont put a new orientee with her), they know her MO,, and will not do anything for fear of lawsuit if they dismiss her. Sooo,, heres what they do, they have found who she works with best and she is assigned on their team whenever she works. She doesnt get assigned randomly like the others because of her attitude. And they bide their time until such that she decides its time to retire. Then the problems over.
    But isnt it sad in this day and age of supposed freedoms that we still have this kind of manipulation.
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    Quote from meownsmile
    Unfortunately, in certan areas where census majority are not African American you will come upon those who feel they have to protect their job like that. I think a lot of times in that respect it does become a protection mechanism.
    My facility is a good example, a CNA who was grandfathered in when the certification regs changed years ago. She does as little as possible (to the point they wont put a new orientee with her), they know her MO,, and will not do anything for fear of lawsuit if they dismiss her. Sooo,, heres what they do, they have found who she works with best and she is assigned on their team whenever she works. She doesnt get assigned randomly like the others because of her attitude. And they bide their time until such that she decides its time to retire. Then the problems over.
    But isnt it sad in this day and age of supposed freedoms that we still have this kind of manipulation.

    I think it is so sad that was allowed to happen. Furthermore., it simply justifies that tatic as a way to avoid tasks and more important to avoid nurses asking you to perform tasks. Many years ago, I worked with a CNA who essentially did the same thing. Had a bad attitude and rather than document and confront her on the issues, the manager allowed a transfer to an outside department for essentially a sit-down office job because of the threats. How insulting that must have been to the CNA's who performed their job to view this woman essentially get rewarded for bad behaivior. You and more importantly other nurses and CNA's need to begin documenting her poor work habits. Even if your manager doesn't have the backbone to deal effectively with this situation, discuss this with her director. However, remember every employee should be given reasonable oppourtunity to improve so it is very important that the documented items are discussed with the employee, the employee has a clear, direct improvement plan with a reasonable period of time for which improvement should take place and very clear steps which will be taken if continued documented evidence occurs. The most important issue is it cannot be only you documenting these issues, otherwise; she does have strong argument. Fear of lawsuit should not prevent you from dismissing a poor performing indiviual, I bet this person also has a lot of call-ins and tardies as well. Remember a threat of lawsuit is just that - a threat. I can guarantee you that she will never go thru with it. I can't imagine any lawyer who would see any profit in this particularly in the face of documented issues. BTW, I am black and a manager and I would not tolerate that from any racial group.


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