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How do you deal with workplace discrimination?

Updated | Posted

Specializes in CCRN, Geriatrics.

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For first time in my nursing career I left work with my feelings extremely hurt not because of my performance but because I'm not allowed to be myself. 
 
So I just started working at a teaching hospital. It is day 4 for me out of a 9 week training schedule. Over the past 4 shifts I’ve noticed my department Director had it out for me but I couldn’t quite figure out why. The same for the clinical nurse leaders who never Acknowledge me when I work, even when I speak cordially. 

Anyway... my supervisor pulled me into the office with concerns about me being “too quiet”. She went on to say that is was bothering her alot. She stated “I am usually good at reading peoples personality but for some reason, with you I cant. I have been a nurse for over 20 years but you have a personality I have never seem before in my life. I want to believe that its is because you are genuinely quiet otherwise I don’t think you would be a good fit for this kind of workplace environment”. 

She went on to say that I seemed “spaced out as if I had other worries on my mind”. Im thinking to myself how you come to this determination in only 4 days of working with me. 
My preceptor begged me not to say anything but she stated the Director was not sure if she liked me or not because of my quiet demeanor. Also she mentioned that other workers on the unit have been talking about it as if I was weird or strange.

With me being the only Filipino nurse on the unit I feel discriminated against. After all, I really liked this job. But I am afraid it will just get worse if it is not addressed. 
My preceptor told me to forget about what was mentioned and try to prove them wrong. 

I don't feel as if I need too. After all it is my first time working in a hospital after coming from a longterm care facility with a little over a year of experience. In fact, most of it is all new to me like pca pumps, blood transfusion, chemo, cardizem drips, Tpn etc. I never wanted to offend anyone by being quiet. I just want to feel my way in. 

And to think this unit is struggling to keep workers. My preceptor said to grow tough skins. In no way have I ever been a push over and I have no desire to fight with anyone for being me. What would you do if you were in my situation? 

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

Wow. I'm sorry that happened to you. I don't understand, she obviously must have interviewed you prior to offering you a job so she should have been able to get "read" of your personality then. I would be pretty offended if my boss told me I had a personality "like she had never met before". Is this an ICU unit? If so, ICU nurses have a reputation for having strong personalities but even so I think the way you're being treated is unacceptable. I don't know if they are discriminating against you, but I would say it's very possible especially with you being the only Filipino nurse on the unit. You're right, you shouldn't have to prove them wrong, but unfortunately for quiet people, we do have to try a little harder to be somewhat social to attempt to "fit in" otherwise you risk putting a target on your back.

I don't have a lot of helpful advice, but I would advise you to start looking for a back up job. Four days in and they're already laying the groundwork to get rid of you because you're "not a good fit". 

I'm sorry you're going through this, hang in there.

Lovethenurse2b25, ASN, BSN, CNA, LPN, RN

Specializes in CCRN, Geriatrics.

4 minutes ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

Wow. I'm sorry that happened to you. I don't understand, she obviously must have interviewed you prior to offering you a job so she should have been able to get "read" of your personality then. I would be pretty offended if my boss told me I had a personality "like she had never met before". Is this an ICU unit? If so, ICU nurses have a reputation for having strong personalities but even so I think the way you're being treated is unacceptable. I don't know if they are discriminating against you, but I would say it's very possible especially with you being the only Filipino nurse on the unit. You're right, you shouldn't have to prove them wrong, but unfortunately for quiet people, we do have to try a little harder to be somewhat social to attempt to "fit in" otherwise you risk putting a target on your back.

I don't have a lot of helpful advice, but I would advise you to start looking for a back up job. Four days in and they're already laying the groundwork to get rid of you because you're "not a good fit". 

I'm sorry you're going through this, hang in there.

Yes it is an ICU unit. My preceptor said that they are use to nurses being loud which for me as a new nurse on the unit I don’t think is appropriate. It is bothering more than I imagined. My first few days of work was hectic with constant codes. My preceptor told me she didn’t have time to explain a lot and to pretty much told me to stand by. Now I’m being viewed as someone who is strange. 
 

 Yes I interviewed with the director for over an hour. I cant figure out why she is concerned with figuring out my personality. For me is seems childish. The biggest concern should be patient satisfaction. Then my preceptor said “as long as I tell her your doing good she will keep you. Just prove them wrong”. She also later on stopped me to say “After today everyone likes you”. However, After only 3 days of orientation I don’t see how they wouldn't like me. Who knew that staying in your lane would get you in trouble. 

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

America has a brash culture. It is often over the top. I think this might be a culture-clash.

In this part of the world extraversion is overvalued. If someone is more reticent and introverted, they are labeled as weird and difficult to relate to.

I don't get it either. It probably is the total ineptitude and insensitivity of these people, not specifically prejudice against Filipinos.

 

0.9%NormalSarah, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 2 years experience.

This just sounds like a negative culture. They should be warm and open to you and give you a good amount of time to fit in given that you are still a newer nurse who has taken on your first hospital job in the ICU (congrats, that is so awesome!). I think getting your experience with this opportunity could be worth it for your future, but are there other hospitals nearby? Could you check into other ICU jobs? They sound like they could be testing you, or like maybe they are just slow to warm up. Either way I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to put up with that. On the other hand if you decide to stick it out for a bit, I’d talk with your director or manager and maybe make a joke out of it. “OMG I know I can be so quiet when I’m trying to focus and nervous about learning new skills. I’ll be sure to wear my party pants next week.” Or something like that, whatever makes you comfortable but shows them maybe you’re being quiet because you’re shy and focused in a new environment. I really hope this gets better for you!

The handwriting is on the wall. Simply put, if I were you I would resume my job search.

Lovethenurse2b25, ASN, BSN, CNA, LPN, RN

Specializes in CCRN, Geriatrics.

2 hours ago, 0.9%NormalSarah said:

This just sounds like a negative culture. They should be warm and open to you and give you a good amount of time to fit in given that you are still a newer nurse who has taken on your first hospital job in the ICU (congrats, that is so awesome!). I think getting your experience with this opportunity could be worth it for your future, but are there other hospitals nearby? Could you check into other ICU jobs? They sound like they could be testing you, or like maybe they are just slow to warm up. Either way I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to put up with that. On the other hand if you decide to stick it out for a bit, I’d talk with your director or manager and maybe make a joke out of it. “OMG I know I can be so quiet when I’m trying to focus and nervous about learning new skills. I’ll be sure to wear my party pants next week.” Or something like that, whatever makes you comfortable but shows them maybe you’re being quiet because you’re shy and focused in a new environment. I really hope this gets better for you!

I do believe they are testing me. There are at least five other new nurses training. One other nurse trainee worked almost all the same days as me and she seemed just as quiet. I honestly don’t see my self being “rowdy” to fit in at all. It is nitpicking at the very least. Especially since it is not related to poor performance or tardiness etc. I noticed her negativity from the very start. The first few days she didn’t even say hello. 

I would like to stay and gain experience but I don’t know if they would want me too. I just think its awful during a pandemic to have to experience prejudice considering how understaffed this hospital is. 

4 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

The handwriting is on the wall. Simply put, if I were you I would resume my job search.

This.

I'm sorry but I think what you have experienced so far is completely inappropriate. Frankly I think it is shocking with or without the race/culture factor. It is completely unacceptable that people would come up with some fake concern about someone's quiet personality after 4 days on the job, especially after being told to basically get out of the way and stand back.

Your manager/supervisor sounds like someone with a serious mental health problem +/- just being a Class A jerk.

I strongly advise against beginning to pick yourself apart based on this situation.

0.9%NormalSarah, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 2 years experience.

I agree with JKL33, do not allow their comments or treatment of you to cause you to have negative feelings about yourself. On one hand I agree that you could get the heck out of there ASAP, on the other hand part of me says there are five of you that could band together to be each other’s support if you want to stay. I think it’s sticky and depends on your other options nearby.

Lovethenurse2b25, ASN, BSN, CNA, LPN, RN

Specializes in CCRN, Geriatrics.

2 hours ago, 0.9%NormalSarah said:

I agree with JKL33, do not allow their comments or treatment of you to cause you to have negative feelings about yourself. On one hand I agree that you could get the heck out of there ASAP, on the other hand part of me says there are five of you that could band together to be each other’s support if you want to stay. I think it’s sticky and depends on your other options nearby.

Im not sure if staying will make the situation better. My preceptor begged me to stay. She stated “if you leave it would make me look bad”. Also that “ if I changed my personality to fit theirs they will began to except me”. I am truly disappointed that a teaching hospital will allow such prejudice. And I certainly have a target on my back. 

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

9 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

The handwriting is on the wall. 

I echo the others in their empathy for you, Lovethenurse. This may just be an uphill battle where you decide to retreat, or stay, fight the good fight, and show them the way.

I have been on both sides of the fence. As a victim, in 1990, I could not please my OR preceptor. Even after being thanked for doing a good job as first scrub on my first TAH with a surgeon referred to as Dr. Nazi, my preceptor could only criticize me.

I didn't let the screen door hit me in the behind with that job.

As a perp, I was rather confrontive with a nurse a few years ago, who happened to be Filipino, because I thought she was playing dumb. When I learned more about her, her personality and skills, I felt a need to apologize.

She graciously accepted my apology.

Good luck to you, Lovethenurse!

 

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

I honestly had to laugh when I read your post - only because I had the exact same issue when I was in a very small ER department one time! ER and ICU nurses often do have strong personalities and are often extroverted - not always but often it’s that way. I am definitely more on the introverted side even though I become more extroverted when I become comfortable with my team or friends. I am naturally a quiet person though and am more that way when I am focusing on a new job or new skills, don’t feel well, am simply lost in my own thoughts, or am tired. 

As another person posted said.....America is a nation that sadly often focuses on the wrong things....it often praises people who are extroverted, ladder climbers, etc. People who are more introverted, content with small things in life, quieter, and/or content with a basic role (e.g. bedside nursing).....this is seen as abnormal or odd. Why? I have no clue. But trust me - there are plenty of people like this whether it’s naturally their personality or they have been through a lot in life, etc.

I was down on myself for a long time and still am to some degree....until a very kind nurse with similar personality took me aside and told me that I should never change anything nor should I be made to feel that way by stronger personalities.

I am giving you the same advice as above....for now, try to learn what you can and be kind and work hard and continue to provide good care to your patients. However, don’t ever change who you are. My honest opinion is that there is something wrong with the unit if they can’t accept you as you are. You may become more accepted there and more comfortable. However if not, don’t hesitate to look for another job. It’s NOT you....it’s likely a department issue. Trust me - there are toxic workplaces like that and then there are units and teams that accept their coworkers for as they are and don’t try to mold them into something else. I am in a team that I am very happy and content with right now. I didn’t change my personality but instead changed my department and it’s made a world of difference!