Advice needed stat please: Contract Cancelled after driving across country!

  1. I need some advice regarding my situation. I waited 12 months for the right travel opportunity to come along. I scoured this blog, read 'Highway Hypodermics' and 'Hitting the Road.' Read every travel nurse article regarding dos and dont's of travel nursing. I'm a hospice nurse so I looked for recruiters that would work with me and find opportunities.

    Just when I was going to give it up and just work for my company locally in Virginia. I received a call back from Nova Pro regarding a Hospice position in Auburn. I did a phone interview with this nursing manager on a Friday asked her all the appropriate questions including her census which she said was at 50 but they desperately needed someone to start as quickly as possible. She even asked me personal questions so she knew I was single and headed very far away from home.

    Spoke with my recruiter who stated they were really impressed and wanted me but were concerned b/c I didn't have a license. I told my recruiter that if the hiring manager really wanted me I would fly out there and apply for the license in person. If it would get me the position I would be willing to fly out there.(I'd been on Short term disability due to a broken wrist so I had a lot of time)

    My recruiter called me back and said she really wants to hire you so I bought a plane ticket to Sacremento for $500. Rental car $200. I flew out there to get license. Was told by agency we will pay for part of expense but that didn't happen. Received call from my recruiter they were really impressed and hired me to start this upcoming Monday 2/13/12 . I had a month out till I could began position plus was awaiting license.

    Placed my two week notice with my company in Va. My coworkers were very supportive. Both my recruiter and this manager knew I was driving ACROSS COUNTRY for this position. I received a call on Monday 2/13/12 from my recruiter confirming I was on my way and making good time. Finally, received a decent housing apt that they found also Tuesday 2/14/12 along with address.( Starting to feel real). Received another call on Tuesday 2/14/12 stating that they were going to have me start on Tuesday 2/21/12 b/c Monday was a holiday....

    On Wednesday, 2/15/12 morning I received a call from my recruiter that the nursing manager stated census had dropped and they were cancelling my contract. I was in Arkansas at the time. I continued on b/c I think I thought maybe it was an error or she would have a change of heart when she realized the plight she put me through. Plus, my recruiter stated they had other opportunities in Ca and having covered that distance I was really not in a position to turn around.

    Originally they said they would try to get ne at least 2-4 weeks but they couldn't get her to budge on just cancelling the contract. I spoke with the nursing manager myself and didn't receive an apology until I stated thats what I was looking for. She just reiterated she debated the decision but can't justify having a travel nurse!

    I'm angry because I spoke her three times since I interviewed was assured they desperately needed me. How can they just break a contract like this?! My recruiter states there is no recourse apologizes but I'M out of at least $1,500 and Nova Pro hasn't offered to cover me for anything but the standard $600 relocation fee which she was supposed to be getting back to me about wiring but she's left for the day before that was done. The furnished apt is no longer available I was supposed to be resting my head for free but now I'm shelling out another $100 for a hotel room! They didn't even offer to cover my expenses till I brought it up!

    I'm not sure what to do. I'm not in a position to pay the $600 plus in gas and lodging to head back to Va. I called my other recruiters but they have to submit me and wait to hear back. Already was passed on by two positions since yesterday. I'm so disheartened and sick to my stomach. This was my very FIRST travel assignment! I cannot believe this has happened.

    Has anyone ever had this occur? Anyone been in this predicament? Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.Thank you
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 18, '12 : Reason: Reformatting post
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    About RNx352008

    Joined: Aug '11; Posts: 15; Likes: 7


  3. by   RNx352008
    Sorry about format I attempted several times to paragraphs but it keeps going back to one big paragraph.
  4. by   dixRN
    Try local agencies to see if they have per diem work for you. You need about 3 months living expenses saved up when you are traveling for just this sort of situation. So sorry this happened to you.
  5. by   merlee
    Wow. So sorry. Get a lawyer.
  6. by   bagladyrn
    I have had this happen to me once when I ended up in CA when my contract in Oregon was cancelled 5 days before the start of a contract. I was lucky enough to have a friend in the state with whom I could stay until obtaining another contract as I didn't want to keep crisscrossing the country.
    In your case, unless you have contacts in the area I'd say that your best move would be to return home and regroup. As others have said, in the future do not leave home without enough to cover your expenses if the situation "goes south" and if told the contract is cancelled turn back.
    Your agency really can't do anything to stop a hospital from cancelling the contract - they are out a chunk of money also. Any compensation the agency may give you is a good thing, but not an obligation on their part - they didn't cancel you.
    The hospital, as an entity, doesn't care about the hardship caused to you. To the "powers that be" this is simply a wise business decision. Don't expect anything different. (Not saying this to be "mean" just stating the reality)
    On the upside, this is not something that happens often. I've only had this happen once in 15 years of traveling. A recent survey I saw on a travel nurse board showed the percentages were low for others as well, although there are hospital corporations known to do this more frequently.
    Another example of Cross Country/TravCorp/Nova Pro leaving another Nurse away from home with nothing. Sorry it happened to you also. I can say nothing Good about that company or their subsidiaries

  8. by   groundedandrooted
    I'm sorry to hear this: I guess I would think twice about ever taking another contract with this company. They may not be at fault, but they benefit if you are stuck in Cali and have to take something with them. YOU DON'T.
    This just happened to me in Florida. I signed with another agency immediately.
  9. by   NedRN
    Do you have a signed contract? What does it say about contract cancellation? The chances are good that it contains some at will language meaning that they can cancel without penalty. However, if it does not have such language, they will owe you the full balance of contract. That amount is between 20 and 30 thousand dollars. That is enough money to be worth running your contract by an employment lawyer. You can find one on nela dot org, their specialty association.

    Do you have anything in writing about reimbursing your trip to Sacramento for a license?

    Here is what you need to do now. Apply for unemployment immediately. There is usually a one or two week blackout for benefits to start, and the clock only starts ticking when you apply. Those benefits will help tremendously when they start coming in. You do not have to be in your home state to apply, and the checks can be sent anywhere.

    There will be a bit of fuss that you voluntarily quit your job, but with a valid employment contract in hand that you did not cancel, you will end up eligible for benefits.

    Are you in California now? If so, start talking to per diem companies about a job now. Don't limit your search to your immediate location. Have you signed up for several travel companies as you should have? Call them all now about ASAP assignments in California. Can you do other specialties if you must? Perhaps medsurg? Do it! Try a non nursing job with someone like Manpower - eating is important.

    Don't be too proud not to look at local agencies that might provide food and shelter. Try also Travelers Aid International at travelersaid dot org. They been helping distressed travelers for 150 years. Another aid society to try is Nurse's House, a national fund for nurses in need at nurseshouse dot org.

    Any relatives or friends that can give a short term loan?

    That's all the immediate advice. It is great you did your homework prior to traveling and it sucks that you got burned your first time out. Here is a bit more advice albeit too late: Always have 3 months of living expenses before traveling because you never know when something like this can happen unexpectedly. Good advice for a perm job as well, but very important for travelers as our assignments are short term, so something unexpected can occur much more frequently. Even experienced travelers get cocky and are burned because they didn't have personal resources to see them through, and believed that it could never happen to them.

    Traveler books are great, but often paint a rosy picture without enough sound advice. A good place for sound advice is pantravelers dot org, a specialty association for travelers. Membership is free and there is a paid membership that provides legal support for contract disputes with agencies such as this one with an employment lawyer.

    Traveling is great, and I hope you get a chance to find that out. Again, sorry this happened your first time out. One of travel nursing's dirty little secrets is that on average, one out of ten contracts fails. This includes contracts such as yours that never started. With good advice, your individual odds are much better than that, but sometimes something like what happened to you is unavoidable. Don't take it personally, no one did it on purpose to you specifically.
  10. by   RNx352008
    Thank you everyone for the great advice. It's all very helpful and I was able to find friends to stay with here in Ca. I'm planning on looking for a local agency Monday. Ned RN, thank you so much for your advice. I was not aware of the many avenues and organizations you suggested and I will definitely look into them. And no, there was nothing in my contract regarding a cancellation clause so I will be addressing that with a lawyer.This was truly a worst case scenario I didn't plan on but perhaps it was needed in order for me to have more insight if I want to continue to pursue travel nursing. Hopefully, will be posting a positive update in near future.
  11. by   NedRN
    I'm glad you have some friends to stay with, that should take some of the pressure off. Good luck with the lawyer, but recognize that even with a good contract, legal action will be difficult. Take care of yourself first, there will be lots of time to examine legal action. It is difficult to learn how often travelers successfully sue agencies, but I do know of one case won for a significant amount (you may have heard of TravelTax - it was him while he was still a traveler). All cases are different, and I also managed to sue a hospital once directly for the balance of a terminated contract even though I worked for an agency. (quite technical, and would not apply to any other situation). For now, take a deep breath and blow it off. I'd think a hospice nurse might be good at that. Not your fault, and you are still a good nurse and will be valuable to a good agency.

    File for unemployment! That's a sure winner. Also, collect any emails you may have received from Nova Pro about the trip to California, or the cancelled assignment. In the future, document promises made by agencies. Ideally in the contract, but do confirm any verbal promises in an email sent to them after the conversation. That will help in court, even if they didn't send an email with the promise directly. Lack of an email denying your documentation is almost as helpful.
  12. by   RNx352008
    Thanks Ned RN. I honestly would prefer not to sue or go thru the trouble of finding a decent lawyer.

    I just want recoup what funds were expensed for this trip. And I'm hoping Nova Pro will honor that. We will see.

    I do have 2 other recruiters from different agencies who I contacted last week looking for other assignments the problem I find is that they sometimes get the exact same assignments and I can't have them submitting me multiple times for the same position.

    Further, frustration is that even though I do Hospice Home Health. Meaning, I go to patients homes/ facilities and assess and perform skills.

    Home Health companies seem to think Hospice nurses don't do anything I have had to explain this ignorance to my recruiters.

    Not all hospice patients are imminent receiving only comfort meds. As nurses we still do wound care, phlebotomy, pca pumps, ports, foleys, etc until they show signs of being imminent they are alive and we care for them. The prognosis is 6 months to a year sometimes longer.

    Even if they have a DNR they can revoke and get higher level of treatment. And sometimes we have to 'graduate' people who surpass the time frame of their prognosis or just recover.

    Basically, 'Congrats you didn't die but unfortunately we have to discharge you.' We refer them home health if they're applicable. Not to mention the emotional aspect of dealing with the patient and helping them to deal with their mortality but assisting the families of these patients as well.

    I have had to utilize more skills then I ever did in a hospital because you work autonomously. There is no Tech when I need to clean the patient up because I still have labs to draw and the aid already came and went for the day. It's all me. And I have a background that includes critical care Telemetry-Step Down and ER. You don't forget how to be a nurse! Ok I'll get off my soap box but seriously that ignorance kills me.

    If Temp/ Per Diem work is available I am definitely willing to do that in the meantime. So here's hoping it works out.

    Ned RN, I honestly appreciate your advice and hope you know that your kindness and consideration to assist me means more to me then I can say. Thanks doesn't seem enough but I pray your kindness is rewarded. And also others thanks for taking the time to respond. It truly helps to be informed and have options.

    And for those that are reading this please, please learn from my example read every nuance of your contract carefully. And remember, ultimately this is a business and as pleasant as your recruiter/ interim nursing manager they are not your friends. As mentioned, I'm hoping to post a positive update. Stay tuned.
  13. by   NedRN
    You are very welcome and we all hope to hear a positive update from you. Sorry if I have a bit of knowledge deficit about your specialty. No offense intended. Except for a couple of months, I've been an OR nurse my entire career. It is rather isolated from clinical specialties, just as the OR is a strange place for most nurses.

    I agree with you about legal remedies. For the most part, suing is not about money, but emotions. It is rarely worth it. In my own case, I did recover 5K, but it was barely worth it. I was hopping mad, the director was dead wrong, and the contract was completely in my favor. I've been terminated several other times in my 17 years as a traveler, but never really had a legal case in those instances nor desired to pursue it. Generally when termination happens after a start date, the hospital will claim it was for cause. I've always made it a practice to get a written evaluation as soon as practical on a new assignment. It may help protect you from termination, and prevent falsehoods from being reported to the board. Some managers/hospitals feel it necessary to fabricate a clinical performance issue when there is a personality issue or low census to protect them from having to pay the balance of the contract to the agency.

    I agree that what would be fair in your case is for NovaPro to pay for your roundtrip to Sacramento, and your roundtrip mileage to the cancelled assignment. Hopefully they will see the light, and having posted the issue here may help resolution. If not, and the contract is in your favor, you may have to hit them with a letter from a lawyer to explain the consequences of actually filing for the full contract.
  14. by   79Tango
    Sorry you are going through this. You have been given some good advise however, I would not wait to long for a HH/Hospice job to pop up.

    Also, I would not be counting on your company to pay you ANY travel expenses. Especially when the recruiter will say they told you to turn around. They are not going to take the hit, I think you said best already "ultimately this is a business". If you are waiting on a wire and they have not discussed whose paying for the "wire fees" and how you are going to pay them back (by working) that is probably not going to happen.

    Please keep everyone here posted, everyone needs to be aware of this stuff and how it plays out. I never trusted those traveler sites you mentioned.. Too many fake people going on there huffing and puffing about how great there company is. Almost like paid advertising.