labor law and nursing

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    I have been trying to find a course on labor law without going into a whole paralegal program- unfirtunately I don't even know what to look for in a course outline. I have the same problem with ordering books- I don't know what I don't know, so I don't know what I need...or something like that.

    I want to be able to evaluate or hospital's present policies as they relate to standing state and federal laws. I've already found some questionable issues.

    1) Mandatory OT cannot be forced on nurses past 12 hours of work except in case of "unforseen circumstance." Our hospital regularly mandates, and policy states they can, up to 18 hours. Is a sick call an unforseen circumstance, or is it a predictable part of doing business?

    2)If we are required to get x amount of break time when the shifts are 6 hours long, why doesn't that time double if we are working 12 or 16 hour shifts?

    If anyone knows the answers I'd love to hear them.

    Perhaps there is someone here that can recommend a labor law book that will get me started- at least get me to the point where I know what questions to ask, and the buzz words associated with different issues.
    lindarn likes this.
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  3. 8 Comments so far...

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    I was curious about breaks and 12-hour shifts. I learned that my state, Arizona, does not legally require ANY breaks for adults. The breaks received are the organization's choice. I have lived in California before and now realize how much California's laws favor the worker. I think that you have to look to your particular state laws for the answer to the break question in your state.
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    I think you will have to look at the state level for laws regarding mandatory overtime.

    Here is some information regarding the state of Washington: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRight...se/default.asp (per this state governmental site, nurses in Washington are not required to work overtime except in cases of disaster or catastrophe.)

    Here is a North Carolina state government site that indicates that overtime may be a mandatory condition of employment. It also notes that breaks are not required for adults.
    http://www.nclabor.com/wh/fact%20sheets/overtime.htm

    Check this article out: http://www.afscme.org/publications/2247.cfm
    "As of March 2002, laws limiting mandatory overtime have been passed in five states: Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. Washington and New Jersey have the strongest protection, with a total ban on any overtime over scheduled shift, except in an emergency. Eighteen other states are considering enacting similar legislation."
    Last edit by RNfaster on Oct 11, '07 : Reason: added link
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    Check out the Nolo Press books and website. They've got great legal resources.
  7. 1
    Quote from canoehead
    I have been trying to find a course on labor law without going into a whole paralegal program- unfirtunately I don't even know what to look for in a course outline. I have the same problem with ordering books- I don't know what I don't know, so I don't know what I need...or something like that.

    I want to be able to evaluate or hospital's present policies as they relate to standing state and federal laws. I've already found some questionable issues.

    1) Mandatory OT cannot be forced on nurses past 12 hours of work except in case of "unforseen circumstance." Our hospital regularly mandates, and policy states they can, up to 18 hours. Is a sick call an unforseen circumstance, or is it a predictable part of doing business?

    2)If we are required to get x amount of break time when the shifts are 6 hours long, why doesn't that time double if we are working 12 or 16 hour shifts?

    If anyone knows the answers I'd love to hear them.

    Perhaps there is someone here that can recommend a labor law book that will get me started- at least get me to the point where I know what questions to ask, and the buzz words associated with different issues.

    Have you checked the paralegal programs at a local community college? You should be able to take a class without enrolling in the entire program. Contact the program director.

    I would think that a course outline would include Federal and State Labor laws. There really isn't any other subjects to cover. A class in Administrative Law would also be helpful. Nurses need to know how to utilize Administrative Laws to be able to contest, or grieve actions by these agencies. State Nurse Practice Acts are considered Regulatory Agencies. Paralegal Programs also include classes on Administrative law.

    Be aware that Federal Law is the law of the land. Personnel and Hospital policies cannot supercede Federal Law. For instance, if you work for a Catholic Hosptal, they cannot dictate that you must attend Mass on Sunday. Or cannot refuse to hire someone because they are Jewish. These policies would violate Federal Law.

    All nurses should take these classes. Nurses are routinely subjected to Labor Law violations, and their ignorance leads to many of the workplace abuses we are subjected to.

    Kaplan has an online paralegal program, but I don't know if you can "cherry pick" classes you want to take, without having to enroll in the entire program.

    The classes that I have take were part of the Legal Nurse Certificate program at Spokane Community College here in Spokane. It was part of the Paralegal Program. When you take these classes, they are conducted like Law Classes in Law School. You are expected to analyze the questions on test, which are scenarios, like case studies in nursing. You have to apply the legal "elements" of the case, and we had to do legal research, and quote applicable case law to support our answers.

    It is not as hard as is sounds. You take classes in Legal Research, etc, which prepare you to be able to do this.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. I have said for awhile now that I should travel around the country giving seminars on Employment and Administrative Law for nurses.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington
    canoehead likes this.
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    i'm sure the dept of labor has websites and agencies for ea state.
    you can always email them.

    leslie
  9. 0
    I have checked my state site, and my boss and I have differing opinions about what the wording means- for example, what exactly constitutes and emergency? A sick call?

    I'd like to know more about wording and how to do legal research- I will check out paralegal programs.
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    To add to canoehead's questionable issues:

    At my hospital, we have to carry unit cellphones at all times, even lunch. No one ever has an uninterrupted lunch break. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, this is not considered a 'bona fide' mealbreak. This means we should be compensated for it.

    I guess everyone at the hospital has been donating their time since we are not paid for our 30 minute "lunch" breaks (with interruptions).
    lindarn likes this.


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