Hostile work environment

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Do you work in a hostile work environment? Do you work around someone who is always negative and criticizes you? I have had this experience. I asked for help when I realized I didn't have the right supplies at the bedside ( the physician wanted something different than I had) and the charge nurse repeatedly criticized me saying "It's your responsibility to have the supplies ready." And in the morning, when all the nurses in my pod were in their rooms, the alarms kept going off on the monitor and the charge nurse said to me " Do you know what a triple beep is." in a sarcastic tone, but never said anything to the other nurses and then threatened to have me written up for not leaving my room and going out to the desk to look at the monitor. I can't work like this. How do you resolve the situation?


bargainhound, RN

536 Posts

You must stand up for yourself.

If you start out with everyone dumping on you, it will only get worse.

Believe me, they are all watching to see what you will do.

Be kind but firm and professional.

luvRNs, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in criticalcare, nursing administration. Has 41 years experience. 1 Article; 76 Posts

There are legal definitions for what constitutes a hostile work environment. These include predominantly sexual harassment situations, and superior-subordinate relationships. What you're describing here is more like an unhealthy working environment. A charge nurse is often not in a formal management position. Often, this is a more senior nurse performing the role for a shift. There is often NO leadership training provided before a nurse assumes the charge role. I guess what I'm saying here is that the charge nurse may never have been provided the tools to do her job effectively. That does NOT excuse her actions, it merely provides you some background for consideration.

The best approach here is to be assertive. Take her aside, and identify your concerns. Describe her actions, explain how they make you feel ( angry, hurt, demeaned etc), state what you expect from the conversation ( a mutually respectful relationship with clear expectations and constuctive feedback in private), and identify what will happen if the behavior continues ( you will discuss the situation with the manager). If the behavior does persist, then by all means do go to the manager as patient care can be affected.

Good luck:)



6 Posts

I would speak to the clinical director or whoever is truly the manager of the floor. If that doesn't work keep going up the chain of command. What you are experiencing is called lateral violence. You will have to stick up for yourself eventually, so start now. Good luck!



136 Posts

So sorry to hear this is happening to you. I have recently been through the same thing in a non-nursing environment.

Another woman and I, long-time employees, were being treated just as nastily and rudely as you describe, while others in the department who were not good performers and with much less seniority were being treated like royalty. The treatment came from two new managers who seemed to take an instant dislaike to us for no reason, even though we are both very well liked and friendly with all, with spotless performance histories and previous promotions.

My friend and I almost threw up and cried many times from being upset at the ill treatment, which was directed at us alone for some reason, even though previous management had given us huge raises and said we were the best in the dept just this past year.

Long story short -- we both went to HR to complain. We had actual PROOF about what was going on. HR made us meet with the two jerks and HR and the jerks lied and acted like they cared. Upper management also pretended to care.

They pretended to change ... then BAM! Both my friend and I got hit with two falsely negative performance reviews ... once again, we went to HR with proof, solid actual proof that the reviews were false.

Upper management pretended to care, and then ... one of the abusers got promoted by upper management to upper management. They never cared, you see ... it was all a sham.

We knew the writing was on the wall ... they stopped picking on my friend and fired her two weeks ago.

I think I am next.

All I can advise is that you can't fight these things and win ... at least not in my experience. Maybe there are some things you can do since you are in a medical environment; I don't know. I would look to the other nurses for the final say here.

After a while, you do get to a place in your head and your soul where you literally do not CARE about the bad treatment anymore, because you KNOW it does not define you ... but this is a hard place to get to and can wreck your health.

My advice is to start looking for a new job or a transfer out of the dept ... I wish you the very best of luck!

I believe my friend and I were targeted due to our age and our seniority -- cheaper to get rid of us. Plus the jerky new managers were threatened by us because we knew our jobs backwards and forwards while they are still (to this DAY) floundering.

Ivanna_Nurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in CCU MICU Rapid Response. Has 18 years experience. 1 Article; 469 Posts

Maybe it is time to get a fresh start and go to a new unit, and stop being the Tolerant Girl. ? IF you could take it or leave it, I'd transfer out. IF you are in your dream spot, then I'd follow the previous posters' good advice. Good Luck. Ivanna



Specializes in Medical Assisting. Has 5 years experience. 162 Posts

Darn, it sounds almost like we work for the same folks! Sorry you had to go through all that, sincerely so! Sometimes, when you've done all that you can and what is appropriate and it STILL doesn't work, you have to move on. There are places, politics, and people that will never change because they are comfortable w/ their own dysfunction and don't want/like to change.

Baloney Amputation

Baloney Amputation, BSN, LPN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Acute Care. 1,130 Posts

You tell her off. That is a good way to fix it. She does this to you because she can, and she derives some sick power trip from it. You just tell her off once, and she will probably stop.

Edited by Baloney Amputation
Speaking in absolutes is bad, mmmkay.

Jules A

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner. 8,863 Posts

This might be a bit of a hijack and not at all directed at the OP but exactly how do you determine what makes for a hostile environment/lateral violence compared to an employee that isn't fulfilling the expectations? This post probably could have been written by one of my new grad coworkers but the reality in this case is that he is just not picking up the skills and doesn't have the insight needed to be a competent member of our team so we are all frustrated. :confused:



207 Posts

I am very competent in my abilities and skills as a new nurse. I am also still learning so when I ask a legitimate question, I expect an answer w/o the eye rolls or loud sighs. Because a new nurse who doesn't ask the questions and pretends they know everything is unsafe. There were other nurses in my pod who also did not leave their rooms to look at the monitor; however, I was the one that was threatened and ridiculed. I just don't understand why nurses have to be so rude to one another. Nurses act like they are better than everyone else. Guess what, it's just a's not like you are creating world peace.



6 Posts

"This might be a bit of a hijack and not at all directed at the OP but exactly how do you determine what makes for a hostile environment/lateral violence compared to an employee that isn't fulfilling the expectations? This post probably could have been written by one of my new grad coworkers but the reality in this case is that he is just not picking up the skills and doesn't have the insight needed to be a competent member of our team so we are all frustrated. :confused: "

If a new nurse isn't competent, that should be discussed with them. There's no need for an adult to treat another adult like a dog.



123 Posts

First of all, I disagree with the person who said it wasn't a hostile environment just because it was a superior who was being rude. It may not be "horizontal hostility" (where the person who is hostile ranks the same as you), but it's still hostile.

Take it from me, ignoring it will not make it go away. I (ignorantly) thought that if I ignored my bully and refused to retaliate, react or respond it would go away, but it only got worse. On top of that, I chose not to talk to anyone else about it, including my management, I had a "keep my mouth shut" policy. The person who bullied me ran to management with anything she could come up with to complain about me. She also befriended my direct supervisor, who is the one who reports data for my evaluations, so you can guess that my evaluation was less than hot since they've become best buddies. In the words of Kathleen Bartholamew, RN, who wrote "Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other" you must "Speak your truth." Do not pretend it doesn't bother you. Remain calm and professional. Don't be angry. Don't make snide remarks. But tell her that you will learn better from people who address you respectfully and in an environment where learning and asking questions is encouaged, not criticized.

I wish you the best of luck. May you not have to endure the year+ of agonizing bullying that I have.