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Can an RN be fired for being immunocompromised?

Nurses   (11,044 Views 33 Comments)
by lexy3227 lexy3227 (New Member) New Member

1,025 Visitors; 18 Posts

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I was just wondering if your employer can fire you for having a medical condition, such as MS, which causes you to be immunocompromised. My best friend works in the same hospital and on the same unit as me and she was recently diagnosed with MS. She deciced to tell our boss that she had the condition and asked if they would adjust the attendance policy for her since it's strictly enforced at our hospital.

Once you call out 3 times in 3 months you must go 90 shifts without a single call out (which is just over 7 months if you're full-time, 11 months part-time, and 1yr and 10months PRN) or you are written up, suspended, and then terminated. Just to give you an idea I received a verbal warning for calling out last year sometime, then I called out twice in February (and was written up) and once in June (suspended) and have had no call outs since. However I can't call out again until May 2011 or I will be fired.

Anyway, our boss said that the hospital would make no accommodations for her, would not adjust the attendance policy for her and would not accept any doctors notes under any circumstances. She then went on to say that she could technically fire my friend right then and there because she shouldn't be working in a hospital setting anyway since she's immunocompromised. Oh, and MS isn't covered under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)? Something just doesn't seem right about this situation....

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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4,468 Visitors; 78 Posts

Has your friend spoken with Human Resources? Your boss may not know the law or even your facility's policy in this situation. She may also want to consult an organization for people with MS or lawyer who is experienced in this type of case.

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6,862 Visitors; 400 Posts

All I can say is that this policy is extremely harsh. Where I work, one can call in sick up to six times a year, but even then special cases are treated sympathetically. Especially as sick time is deducted from paid time off, so in reality if you are sick or on vacation... it makes no difference they are not paying anyone any extra.

If she is in a union, she should be involving the union and maybe thinking about a lawyer.

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3 Followers; 96,599 Visitors; 36,687 Posts

She needs to consult a labor law attorney to educate herself on what her rights are.

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1 Article; 5,072 Visitors; 187 Posts

I was also thinking FMLA.

I've had two minor surgeries this year. The first was lithotripsy with stent for a kidney stone back in July. It caused me to miss 4 days of work total. My NCM was pretty sympathetic to that and I had no issues. However, 2 1/2 months later I had to have a fistula repair surgery which required another 4 days off. That one I had to take FMLA for. And because this surgery has a well known failure rate, it was set up as intermittent FMLA. So, if I have a problem with this particular issue, anytime in the next year I can call off and it not count. But, it onlyapplies to this issue.

There are requirements to FMLA... length of employment being one, but HR should should be able to help.

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1,025 Visitors; 18 Posts

The funny thing is, our boss IS a lawyer! Not that that means she knows what she's talking about though. As for FMLA you have to work 1,250 in the past 12 months so if you're part time or PRN you don't have enough hours to qualify (unless you've worked extra shifts). I think it's shady that they don't accept doctors notes under ANY circumstances and the attendance policy is so strict. They don't want you coming to work sick but at the same time if you call out sick you're penalized for it! We've had nurses written up for calling out due to the fact that there kid was in the ER and they themselves were in the ER!

Our boss told my friend that she should just take a leave of absence but that's ridiculous because she doesn't need weeks off at a time, doesn't know when she might have a flare-up AND her job isn't guaranteed once she comes back from leave.

HR unfortunately seems just as bad as our director. My friend received a letter from HR stating they would not accommodate her and basically it's up to the unit directors discretion as to how to deal with this situation.

My friend has contacted a lawyer from the MS Society. It will be interesting to see what happens. I just can't believe my work could care less if their nurses are sick...you'd think they'd be a bit more understanding since we're in the healthcare field!!

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realnursealso/LPN has 34 years experience as a LPN and specializes in Peds Homecare.

2 Articles; 18,476 Visitors; 783 Posts

What state do you live in? Sounds like a bunch of nonsence to me. If you are sick and have a drs. excuse, what do they think they can do? Lord I may pay high taxes, but at least in NY, we have disabilty insurance. What kind of workplace has such a crazy, uncaring attitude?

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whodatnurse specializes in Psych.

6,437 Visitors; 444 Posts

She needs to consult a labor law attorney to educate herself on what her rights are.

Yes! HR is there to look out after the hospital's interests...not HERS. I wouldn't be looking to them to advocate for her in this matter.

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1,025 Visitors; 18 Posts

What state do you live in? Sounds like a bunch of nonsence to me. If you are sick and have a drs. excuse, what do they think they can do? Lord I may pay high taxes, but at least in NY, we have disabilty insurance. What kind of workplace has such a crazy, uncaring attitude?

I WISH I could say what hospital it is!!!! I live in Northern Virginia. I called the corporate office and they didn't seem to think our hospital had to accept doctors notes. What's even more absurd is that management says if you have a doctors note it's considered an "excused" absence whereas if you don't have one it's an "unexcused" absence....but there's no difference because we still get penalized!! We've asked mgmt what the difference is between excused and unexcused and they said, "well it just looks better if it's excused....but you'll still get in trouble for calling out"! LOL.

We actually had a nurse who got dizzy while working and we took her BP and it was REALLY high so we put her in a wheelchair and took her down to the ER to get checked out, on our way down there we told the boss what was going on and she said it was okay to take her to the ER....then several weeks later the nurse was written up for "abandonment of patients!" So basically if we're going to have a heart attack, stroke, get the flu or something like that we should just make sure it's when we're NOT working! As if we have any control over that! Ridiculous....

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1,025 Visitors; 18 Posts

Yes! HR is there to look out after the hospital's interests...not HERS. I wouldn't be looking to them to advocate for her in this matter.

Agreed. Unfortunately HR is NO help at all....and most people don't trust them, at least at my hospital.

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2,375 Visitors; 71 Posts

This is outrageous! Don't leave a sick patient it's abandonment, but if you're an employee and you're sick, we will abandon you!

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