Unfair treatment by co-workers/boss

  1. I am sure I'm not the only one experiencing this -- but I'm kind of in a bad situation. This will be long, so I'm sorry in advance!

    I am the breadwinner for my family, and have young children. There is already quite a bit of pressure on me. I am working in a birth center -- which is exactly where I want to be. I became a nurse just so I could do labor.

    I was hired at this place over 2 years ago as a labor nurse. I had previous labor experience from other hospitals and some med-surg experience on top of that. In this particular unit (LDRP combined), nurses start out in PP/Nsy, then are oriented to labor after several months. Unfortunately, our unit is very "clicky". It's like being back in high school. :-( At the time, though, things were just fine and I got along well with everyone.

    Just before I was to begin my L/D orientation, I found out I was pregnant (surprise). Since I started showing really early, I had to break the news to my boss. She suggested perhaps I should wait to do the L/D orientation after I delivered so I could be as stress-free as possible while pregnant, and that I'd be more fresh off orientation as soon as I got back from my leave. Since I have a history of complicated pregnancies, this seemed like a really good idea.

    Well, of course, this pregnancy turned out to be the most difficult I've experienced (started contracting at 27 weeks, severe poly, labile BP's, macrosomia), and I couldn't stop working because I am the only one bringing in income in our house. My doctor agreed that I could still work, but wanted me to be careful. My co-workers seem to have a disdain for pregnant women (isn't that a hoot?!?), often calling them "whiny". Many of these nurses are not yet mothers, and are clueless as to the difficulties of pregnancy -- let alone a high-risk situation like mine. See where this is going? I was mistreated, dumped on (given assignments like 400-lb post-ops who couldn't move so had to be moved), and often refused help when I asked for it. My doctor was aware of how rough things were, so told me to stay home several times when he felt it was dangerous for me to work. In those cases, he faxed a note to my boss saying he wanted me NOT to work.

    Anyway, I had to leave a little early for my maternity leave, and then had to deliver early because the baby was showing signs of distress. I had a very difficult delivery (18-hour labor, asynclitic pres., shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage, baby was sent straight to NICU, etc.). Just a few hours after delivering, in walked my manager with some papers in her hands. "It's time for you to do your eval -- and you have to do it now." (WHAT?!?) I'm not kidding. Not only this -- she had walked in the room for no good reason a few hours earlier while I was in stirrups. It's bad enough to be this vulnerable around the co-workers who have to be there. But this was just downright wrong. Who wants their boss in the room when they're trying to push a baby out? I was livid. Of course, knowing how things can be, I didn't fuss. I just did the eval (even though I can't even remember what I wrote because I was on Percocet and completely worn out).

    Fast forward... My first day back, my boss handed me a "disciplinary action form" to sign because of the times I'd had to call out per my doctor's orders. She said, "The new rule is that doctor's excuses don't count anymore." Again -- WHAT?!?

    Next, I noticed that I wasn't scheduled to start L/D orientation. Hmmm.... So I asked my boss about it. "Oh, I forgot all about that! We'll get right on it." That was over a year ago. After repeatedly asking and being given the same bull, I have watched brand new nurses come in and go straight to labor, new grads, etc. All the while, I have been asking, and being told, "your turn will come." I don't think it ever will.

    I finally asked a nurse (one I know I can trust) just recently if she knew anything was being said about me at all. She indicated that she knew that a couple folks on the day shift (I work nights) decided they didn't like me, and unfortunately those are the folks who are close to my boss. So I know it's not going to happen now (even though I am still being told repeatedly, "I haven't forgotten you -- we'll get to it!").

    I am seriously considering speaking with a lawyer. A friend of mine who is a JD is looking into researching the types of problems I've had at work and seeing if she can find just the right lawyer for me in our area.
    I work VERY hard, and know that if I weren't meticulous with my charting and caring for patients as well as I do (my patients consistently ask if I'll be back and if I can be their nurse again), I'd probably be out of a job as I'm sure my co-workers who don't like me (it's not all of them -- just a few certain ones) would love to have a real reason to get rid of me.

    I am very down about this -- and frustrated. There aren't a ton of hospitals in my area, and I really want to work OB. The OB jobs are harder to come by, too. Sigh....

    Any other ideas? Thanks for hearing me out!
  2. Visit MultipRN profile page

    About MultipRN

    Joined: Feb '09; Posts: 46; Likes: 46
    Staff RN
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in OB, Cardiac


  3. by   caliotter3
    In a nutshell, not a good situation. You should keep in mind that you are the sole breadwinner when you consider the attorney route. Going to an attorney may be warranted, but usually turns out to be fruitless and costly effort. I would seriously consider how much my income is needed, bite my tongue, collect my check, and start looking for a new place to work yesterday.
  4. by   rjflyn
    You answered the question in your second to the last paragraph Lawyer Pregnant workers are a protected class and as such an employer has to bend over backwards to protect you and it sounds like the did everything but.
    Last edit by rjflyn on Feb 13, '09
  5. by   Jolie
    I don't think you'll like my response, but here goes.

    If you want an OB position and have limited options for other employers, I would stay the course, be patient, try to wait out the bad will of your boss and day shift workers while doing the best job possible. I would also suggest putting your energy into your family and recognizing your job for what it is: a source of pay.

    The only thing you describe that may be actionable is the conduct of your evaluation. It was obviously inappropriate since you were not working, vulnerable and unable to object and of altered mind due to fatigue and medications. I would recommend requesting a copy of the eval and looking at it objectively. If it is not accurate, go thru the chain of command (beginning with your boss) within your hospital to protest it. If need be, HR can be present to mediate.

    As aggravating as your other complaints are, there is little you can do about them. Employers are entitled to establish absentee policies that meet their needs, not the employee's. They get to decide how many absences is considered excessive, which ones require a doctor's note, etc. Unless you can prove that you have been singled out while others are allowed a "pass" on absentee issues, you won't have a case. The only way to avoid having an absence count against you is to appropriately utilize FMLA, which probably won't apply to you now.

    As for the L&D orientation, without a contract that guarantees this, you probably can't force it. They may be deliberately trying to p**s you off, they may be choosing employees without families who are more flexible in their work schedule, they may be playing favorites, or they may have a legitimate reason for orienting other nurses first. Without having a heart-to-heart with your boss, you can only speculate on the reason. This would be a good question to tactfully bring up when you talk to your boss about your eval.

    There is nothing wrong with speaking with a lawyer, but I suspect that an honest one will tell you that here is little that can be accomplished by bringing a lawyer into this situation because it ill only make your employer uneasy, defensive and possibly start looking for a reason to let you go.

    I don't condone bad treatment of employees, but nor do I condone going outside the chain of command to address problems as a first choice. And as a practical matter, in this economy, an unsatisfying job is better than no job. Also, you describe a staff that is made up largely of young women. There will likely be a relatively high turnover due to staff going back to school, relocating, getting married and having babies. If you can hang in there for awhile, many of these staff members will be gone, and your opportunities will expand.

    I understand your passion and interest for L&D, but it is not more important than your family. Go to work for your 8-12 hours, do your best and enjoy your children.

    Take care.
    Last edit by Jolie on Feb 13, '09
  6. by   nickos
    I don't have any advice, but I have to say...UN BE LIEVABLE! Totally NOT okay; the way they are treating you. Take care of yourself and your family, and good luck!
  7. by   Jolie
    Quote from rjflyn
    You answered the question in your second to the last paragraph Lawyer Pregnant workers are a protected class and as such an employer has to bend over backwards to protect you and it sounds like the did everything but.
    She wasn't fired, demoted or reassigned due to pregnancy, or forced to take an assignment contrary to her physician's instructions. So I don't understand what protections you believe her employer failed to provide. Pregnancy does not entitle one to less demanding assignments or leniency on the employer's absentee policy. If a pregnant woman is unable to carry out her usual work assignments due to restrictions placed by her physician, FMLA is the appropriate and legal way to protect her position.
  8. by   MultipRN
    I appreciate such fast responses! I am inclined to agree with the "wait it out" thing. As frustrated as I am, and as unhappy as my situation is at work -- my family truly is more important! My husband is keenly interested in my speaking with a lawyer closer to his graduation date (in a few months) since there will be less risk to our income at that point. I was singled out as far as I can tell (with the absences). But there are a few others who have been as well. I really don't want to see this happen to anyone else.
  9. by   FireStarterRN
    I think the writing is on the wall. I would look for another position, this unit sounds wretched. Your manager is a horrid person. That is sick that she would treat someone like that. Your coworkers sound toxic.
  10. by   LizzyL&DRN
    Think of it this way. Learning Labor and delivery was one of the most stressful things I've ever done. Not sure how others feel about that. But from my perspective you are undergoing a huge amount of stress already. If I were you I would come to work, take the best care of your patients that you know how, protect your license and wait it out. The clicks don't always last and if they truly alieanated you, they are probably doing it to others also. Problems will likely arise from it and the manager will need to take a more professional stance on it and address it. (we went through a similar situation with clicks, it worked itself out) You probably don't want to learn labor in an environment such as what you're in anyway.
    Forcing you to undergoe an evaluation in those circumstances is truly unbelieveable. You should have forced her to pay you for an hour of your time. I probably would have gone to HR for that or told her absolutely not.
    I was a gyney patient on my floor, my manager needed to give me some new employee handbook and I had to sign for it. She asked my permission to conduct that type of business while I was a patient before. I too had someone who wasn't involved with my delivery walk in while I was in stirrups. It was pretty aggravating, but I was so tired I didn't say anything. I'm sorry for your tough time.
  11. by   travel50
    Just when did doctor's excuses stop counting?!!! And does that apply to everyone else?
  12. by   Jolie
    Quote from travel50
    Just when did doctor's excuses stop counting?!!! And does that apply to everyone else?
    That is the case with most employers. They will "accept" a pre-determined number of absences, and each additional absence results in escalating "disciplinary action" such as verbal, written warnings, 1-day suspension, etc. It matters not what one's doctor has to say about the absences. It only matters that the absence occurs. That is why FMLA is so critical to preserve one's good standing and job, and is often used intermittently for recurring conditions such as migraines, back pain, etc.
  13. by   Ruby Vee
    i think jolie gave some excellent advice!
  14. by   travel50
    My daughter is suddenly having trouble with her 1st pregnancy. 32 wks, lots of pains, doc just put her on bedrest. Her co-workers have just donated some of their sick days for her so she does not have to use her actual maternity leave until baby gets here. She is so very grateful. She and others donated days last yr to a co-worker whose wife died unexpectedly, so he could stay home longer with his understandably traumatized 6 yr old. It made such a difference.

    My crew is spoiled. If they will just tell me before the new schedule is made out that they want a day off, I approve it. And I really don't care what it is for. If they are feeling so overwhelmed that they need a day off, just say so. Someone will cover. My ADON or myself (DON) will cover the floor if we have to. It is in my best interest to keep my staff happy. But I am just as spoiled. Let me have a really bad day, and I get the sweetest notes. They will come and stand at my door, ask what is wrong, have they done something, can they help. My administrator will send me home early if I looked overwhelmed. One of my nurses nearly lost it last month...fiance' kicked her out, she had no place to go, no money, etc. One of my other nurses went and got her. One of the volunteers for our nsg home brought her food and clothes. We found her a place to live. The administrator gave her extra furniture. And I gave her a week off to get resettled. Last time I was really sick, I went to work, climbed into an empty bed and got the best care you could possibly imagine. We also babysit so people don't have to call in. Child has to be well behaved and willing to take instructions from others. But we do what we have to to make work a place they want to be. Just can't imagine why some people so mistreat their employees.