Is this a possible case of age discrimination?

  1. 6

    Dear Nurse Beth, I am a 53 year old newly licensed LPN and had a tough time finding a job. My classmates are younger and pretty much all of them got hired within two weeks of passing the NCLEX.

    Is this a possible case of age discrimination?

    I had my instructor review my resume and give me some tips, but I still had no interviews. Two months later, I had an interview with a medical practice for an office LPN and they knew I was a new grad but they said they were willing to train me. The next day I got offered the job which of course I accepted.

    Once I was hired and went through some computer and lab training, I was assigned to work with a provider that was verbally abusive and everyday he always told me that he hated working with new nurses and he preferred to work with CMA's because they are more "savvy". I went to my supervisor with my concerns and I was told to "let it go in one ear and out the other" because it was "just his personality". He still persisted in calling me "old" "slow" and "fat". I am not slow and I do keep up just fine.

    After working for two months, I was called into my supervisor's office and told that they were terminating me because the provider "didn't have the time or the patience to work with a new nurse". If this was the case, why did they hire a nurse they knew was newly licensed?

    I was devastated but maintained my composure and went home. I filed for unemployment and starting looking for another job.

    The upside to the situation is that I learned a wealth of information - as well as doing many blood draws and lab tests, charting, etc. I felt I should list the job on my resume because of the experience I gained, but I'm not sure if that is working for me or against me. I've never been fired from a job - ever.

    It has been hard finding work and I feel that maybe this practice is either torpedoing me or again, it could be my age. I've been on three interviews - which always go well - and then nothing. I always follow up with an email thanking them for their time, etc., but then nothing. I am getting worried because I need to find work as a nurse for the experience because I'm new, but I'm starting to lose hope.

    Do you have any suggestions as far as my resume? Should I have listed this practice or would I have been better to leave it off.

    Thank you.


    Dear Worried,

    What a devastating experience to have when you are just starting your nursing career! There are so many things wrong with how you were treated that I can't even go there- my blood pressure will go up, I'm afraid.

    You are to be commended for having grace under fire and showing composure.

    Landing a job as an LPN is a function of market need and supply in your geographical area. One of the largest employers of LPNs is sub acute care facilities.

    You are landing interviews, so your resume is effective - but your interviewing skills may need honing. Call the three employers/hiring managers who did not hire you and simply ask "I would appreciate your feedback, I am working on improving my interviewing skills, can you help me with some feedback?"

    Read "Age Discrimination in Nursing" as it is real, but you can strategize.

    If you are lucky, maybe one of them will respond - but it’s worth your time, as you have nothing to lose.

    Regarding whether or not you should leave off this job on your applications - It's always wise to answer all questions on a job application honestly and completely, as being found out later will cost you the job. It’s too big of a risk. And you will have no peace of mind waiting for the shoe to drop. Be prepared to speak to the short tenure if asked: "It wasn't a good fit although I gained many skills" and segue forward positively "I look forward to joining an organization that shares my values." Period.

    Related posts: How to Land a Job
    How to Answer "What's Your Greatest Weakness?"
    How to Prepare for Your Interview


    Best wishes,


    Nurse Beth

    Do you like this Article? Click Like?
  2. Visit Nurse Beth profile page

    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Nurse Beth has '20+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho'. From 'Bakersfield, CA'; Joined Mar '07; Posts: 1,132; Likes: 3,392.

    Read My Articles

    27 Comments

  3. by   Aonfromthai
    Keep looking, you will get a job soon. Don't give up.
  4. by   RNrhythm
    If you left on good terms, I wonder if the employer who let you go would write you a letter of recommendation? I know that is unlikely, but a good reference from them could mitigate any concerns an interviewer may have about you being let go from your previous job.
  5. by   PACU-LVN
    "Once I was hired and went through some computer and lab training, I was assigned to work with a provider that was verbally abusive and everyday he always told me that he hated working with new nurses and he preferred to work with CMA's because they are more "savvy". I went to my supervisor with my concerns and I was told to "let it go in one ear and out the other" because it was "just his personality". He still persisted in calling me "old" "slow" and "fat". I am not slow and I do keep up just fine."

    I am so sorry you had to work with someone like that! Nursing can be challenging enough without having to deal with a provider like that. Sounds like he wanted a "sweet, young thing" to work with him (skilled or not!). And I think the supervisor was wrong and very unprofessional to tell you to basically deal. I give you kudos for hanging in there. No one should have to work in an environment like that. Be persistent, you will land the perfect job. And not all providers are like that. I wish you the very best!
  6. by   NurseDiane
    Being told you're "old", "slow" and "fat" are not only discriminatory, it is verbal harassment. Being told you are "old" is age discrimination, and if I were you I would file an EEOC complaint & find a lawyer. If you can prove this idiot doctor called you those things, you've got a great case. The fact that you went to the supervisor & told her about it, and being told to "let it go in one ear & out the other" & "that's just his personality" instead of telling the doctor to knock it off, is a great foundation for an age/sex discrimination lawsuit. They were made aware of his verbally abusive & discriminatory behavior and did nothing about it.

    It sounds like the doctor is just a pain in the a** to work with and that they can't get or keep a nurse working with him. Telling a nurse to ignore that kind of behavior and not doing anything to get the doctor to stop saying abusive & harassing things to other employees is enabling that type of behavior & setting the practice up for a big, fat lawsuit. I would totally file an EEOC complaint & get an attorney. This doctor must be stopped from treating his employees like that. An EEOC lawsuit will definitely curb his tongue when they have to pay you whatever salary you were making for the next 12 years, until you turn 65. Filing an EEOC lawsuit will stop this idiot from treating other nurses the way you were treated, and that will be a very good thing.
  7. by   englishgarden
    What an awful experience. The person who trained you should be fired and quite honestly sued. It sounds like others have given you good advice in this blog. Can you approach your last supervisor and ask for a letter of recommendation?
    I too, have been facing age discrimination. I have been a registered nurse for 26 years and just went back to school to get my master's degree. I left my job to explore new opportunities and it has taken me 3 months to land a job. I am basically doing the same work I did with my BSN and driving further and getting paid less. The hospital does not recognize my advanced degree or give me any credit for specialty certification (CCRN). During my interview I was asked several times about my ability to learn new computer systems and whether I thought I could "keep up" with the busy work environment. I am 55 years old and physically fit.
    Reflecting on my recent interviews, I realize that one of my strengths was sharing examples of problem solving that required interpersonal skills and maturity. I was able to share that I was flexible with hours and available for overtime if needed because I don't have children at home.
    I noticed one glaring problem on my resume that may have caused me to be passed over immediately. My resume begins with a statement that says "My experience as a registered nurse spans 26 years with the majority of my career in critical care, specifically the cardiac intensive care." That statement immediately shares that I am older and rank higher on the pay scale. I just wonder if it cost me potential interviews?
    Good luck to you. I hope you can find a job in a clinic as the subacute setting (nursing homes) are a very tough environment to work it no matter what age you are.
  8. by   vetnrse
    Try home health agencies. Always a need for home visits and pediatric home care. They train trach &vent care
  9. by   Johnnyb2000
    Age discrimination does happen even if it's illegal. I graduated as an RN at the age of 51. I already have a BS degree in another subject. I was licensed in 2010 and it took nearly a year to land my first job at the worst possible place. Fortunately I am a dialysis nurse now and it seems I am needed more often than I would have thought. But it was a long hard Road and I think I had a fight and age battle.

    I applied to several hospitals and was even recommended by a fellow student. The fellow student with less work experience was hired and so were others around me but they were all considerably younger than I was. I never even got an interview even if I tailored my resume similar to the other people.

    I landed a job in a hospital in another state but as it turned out they were desperate for new nurses. When Senior Management decided they were spending too much money my Department was restructured. I got a new boss and was forced out. After another year of trying to get a job I finally took one at the most awful nursing home. They were so desperate for nurses they would hire anyone. After 4 months seeing how poorly they treated patients I had to leave. But I didn't leave until I had an offer from a better nursing home. The new job lasted a year-and-a-half but I got really tired of being pressured to do all the admissions but nine of the overtime. I left the organization and took a job in Assisted Living. That was the biggest mistake. it was nothing but a downgrade even though the pay was a little better. I left the assisted-living position and took a position with another nursing home. Well the nursing home was very nice, it just wasn't for me. I finally landed the dialysis job and now I have been employed there for 2 years. I'm so busy I don't have time to think but I love the job.

    I don't know if you can tell from my history but it was difficult to land a decent job and finally get into what I have now. I came from a previous professional career and made lots of money about twice what I make now. Changing my career and attitude was not a problem but changing employers attitudes towards older people has been a serious issue.

    On players don't come right out and say that the age discrimination is clear to me with myself and others I know that they do age discriminate. The closest I can State as fact is that during one interview at a hospital one of the interviewees and a team of three ask me why wouldn't just be a sales rep instead of a nurse I certainly had plenty of experience. This was a clue that they were saying you're old and you belong in a different field where you'll be accepted.

    What helped is that I look young, I died my hair professionally for the interview and really caught their attention.
  10. by   hyacinth69
    Something that is important to remember in this business, is that male physicians love to manipulate women. And the younger the female, the better. This physician did not really want a 53 year old female working in his office because he needs a female to preen over and manipulate. A lot of young nurses are ga-ga over their male employer and will do things over and above the call of duty. I have been an RN for over 30 years and I have seen it all. Please, just keep on sending out your resume's and going to interviews. You be the one who is particular where you work. Actually, hospitals are less discriminatory. When in an interview, comment that you are an older, more wiser nurse with an already good set of skills under her belt. I am ashamed at how male-female issues exist in a female dominated field.
  11. by   wAytoGo
    " Be happy. Be yourself. If others don't like it, then let them be. Happiness is a choice. Life isn't about pleasing everybody."

    I am 45 years old and i just got resigned as an RN in the hospital. Been working in the same hospital for 17 year! I got burnt out because of the politics going on. They loved to pick on me until i decided to resign. The decision to leave was not an easy one. After much thought, i decided it was necessary to try new things and further my career and hoping my transition will go smoothly. True enough, in the company of health and wellness i've joined in for 4 years as a part time job is now my FULL time job. I got the time freedom, more retention income and most of all I am HAPPY. I always tell to myself that this is not the end of the world yet. I have to keep going. So take it from me...if you are no longer happy with what you are doing keep your options open. After all we are still a NURSE you and your loved ones can be proud of. You are still young and AGE is just a number. I hope this helps. Cheer up! You have a great day ahead!
    Last edit by wAytoGo on Mar 18 : Reason: inserting quote
  12. by   wAytoGo
    "Be happy. Be yourself. If others don't like it, then let them be. Happiness is a choice. Life isn't about pleasing everybody."

    I am 45 years old and i just got resigned as an RN in the hospital. Been working in the same hospital for 17 year! I got burnt out because of the politics going on. They loved to pick on me until i decided to resign. The decision to leave was not an easy one. After much thought, i decided it was necessary to try new things and further my career and hoping my transition will go smoothly. True enough, in the company of health and wellness i've joined in for 4 years as a part time job is now my FULL time job. I got the time freedom, more retention income and most of all I am HAPPY. I always tell to myself that this is not the end of the world yet. I have to keep going. So take it from me...if you are no longer happy with what you are doing keep your options open. After all we are still a NURSE you and your loved ones can be proud of. You are still young and AGE is just a number. I hope this helps. Cheer up! You have a great day ahead!
  13. by   DeeAngel
    Talk to a lawyer about filing a hostile work environment lawsuit.
  14. by   RobbiRN
    A couple of people have suggested getting a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. You may very well have a great case. You might win, teach the mean doctor a lesson and be financially compensated. But the legal world can be capricious and justice is not always served. Do you want to spend the next few months, or even years, reliving the negative energy or would you rather put it behind you hand move on to a better job?

    A good friend was doing well at a job, given a raise and voted employee of the month, just before she went to the owner/president about his son sexually harassing her at work. The incidents were witnessed and she would have had a great lawsuit, but she chose to walk away when it was clear that management wouldn't back her. She just didn't want the stress of the lawsuit. She is applying for a new job and, as a gentle reminder of the actual circumstances, she called the president to ask what he would say to prospective employers if they called him. He assured her that he would give her an excellent recommendation.

    My point is that the boss who said "just let it go in one ear and out the other" is likely aware of their potential legal liability. A simple phone call might be a good reminder: "I'm currently applying for a new job. I appreciated your support while I was there and the way you told me 'that's just the way he is' when provider x was telling me I was old, slow and fat. I just wanted to ask you what kind of a recommendation would you give me if a prospective new employer calls you?"

close