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!
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
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.
Last edit by Jolie on Feb 13, '09