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manager openly talking about my relationship on the floor in meetings with staff

Professionalism   (851 Views | 6 Replies)
by oneinfour oneinfour (New) New Nurse

248 Profile Views; 4 Posts

Hello all,

I'd like some guidance on a situation I find myself in. I've been dating another nurse on the floor for 4 months now, and a few weeks ago our manager found out. She approached us and told us we would either have to switch to opposite schedules as we both work the same shift on the same weekend rotation, or one of us has to transfer off the unit. She cited that since my occasional charge nurse responsibilities every schedule are a supervisory role (we are responsible for making assignments for the next shift and delegating admissions to the floor) and it is a conflict of interest on those days (I am typically in charge 4-6 shifts out of 18 shifts on a schedule).

After several discussions with our manager regarding our relationship on the floor we grew concerned that her approach to this whole situation was not in our best interest. We informed her of that via email and told her that we did not feel comfortable continuing the discussion about the situation until we sat down with HR to gain their insight on everything.

The same day we sent that email we came to work that evening and were informed by several coworkers that our manager conducted a huddle in main desk in the middle of the unit and announced us by name that we were in a relationship, and informed all the staff there that I was not to be in charge while we worked together. She then proceeded to tell them that this situation could lead to them getting floated, not getting call-offs, or even getting mandated.

We were also informed by a nurse shortly after our manager approached us about our relationship that she had brought our names up in a Council meeting and was asking questions about our dynamics and behaviors on the floor.

Our HR meeting is in a few days. How should I proceed going into this meeting?

Edited by oneinfour

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

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While your manager may not have gone about it in the best way, most likely what was said is true. Many (if not all) facilities have policies against those in a relationship having any sort of supervision over one another. For several, that means those in a relationship cannot be on the same unit. When that was brought up by the manager after learning of the relationship, the arrangements necessary to keep your schedules from overlapping should have been made by the manager and accepted by you and your partner at the time.

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What is your angle with HR - a concern about harassment?

I suppose I would go to the meeting with an aim at getting a better understanding of the policies that relate to the situation. You can mention that you would appreciate some additional discretion being used with regard to the matter and also that you feel there have been some actions taken for the sole purpose of inciting the concern and disapproval of your coworkers. You would likely be in a somewhat easier position if you had been forthcoming about this situation to begin with.

It is a generally accepted idea that people in intimate relationships are expected to inform the company and make appropriate arrangements--and this is for everyone's good and in everyone's best interest, including your own and your partner's.

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1 hour ago, JKL33 said:

What is your angle with HR - a concern about harassment?

I suppose I would go to the meeting with an aim at getting a better understanding of the policies that relate to the situation. You can mention that you would appreciate some additional discretion being used with regard to the matter and also that you feel there have been some actions taken for the sole purpose of inciting the concern and disapproval of your coworkers. You would likely be in a somewhat easier position if you had been forthcoming about this situation to begin with.

It is a generally accepted idea that people in intimate relationships are expected to inform the company and make appropriate arrangements--and this is for everyone's good and in everyone's best interest, including your own and your partner's.

At this point I'm trying to figure out what the best angle is given everything that has happened. Our aim before she announced those things openly at huddle was to gain more insight into the policy.

We did look at the policy when we first started dating, and the language of this policy states that employees are expected to report the relationship if one person is in a supervisory role over the other. We concluded that since we are both staff nurses on the floor, there wasn't a need to report anything as there was nothing that was indicated in the policy for employees at the same level and we preferred to keep our relationship under wraps. It's also worth noting that the charge nurse role in our hospital is not something that you get paid any extra money for, and it isn't something you apply for, they are simply responsibilities that are expected of you after you've been a nurse for 2 years on the unit. So those are definitely some points we are going to go into the HR meeting with to get more clarification on.

Also in our discussions with our manager we proposed to be able to stay on the unit, same shift and same weekend but to make sure we schedule ourselves 5 days apart and those would be the days I could fulfill my charge responsibilities with no conflict of interest. She was not receptive to the idea. We also voiced to her we felt we were being rushed into a transfer to another unit, and I had actually applied to other hospitals. We asked for some time where our schedules could be left alone for up to two schedules (we would still schedule ourselves 5 days apart due to the charge nurse component) while we conduct searches for jobs and find one that was the best fit for one of us. After voicing that concern we scheduled a meeting with HR and decided it was best not to continue the discussion of anything further until then for our own best interest. We just feel a little bothered that there has been no HR presence through all of this considering the weight of what's being asked of us through all of this so far.

Also, would you take the harassment angle in regards to her actions discussing our relationship openly in staff meetings to incite concern and disapproval of our coworkers? It has definitely been way more difficult working on the unit since that occurred as we have had many uncomfortable interactions with coworkers and it's all anyone seems to want to talk about with us now. It's been a huge distraction while we've been trying to do patient care and I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn't slightly concerned the whole thing was affecting my patient care.

My concern is we don't want to go into this meeting being perceived as trying to overplay this incident just to trash our manager. However how everything has been conducted, it feels as though that she's been using our relationship to force me in particular off the unit by not willing to be accommodating and not having any HR presence in her interactions with us up to this point, as I had to ask her for our HR generalists name after the third meeting regarding this situation with her.

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Based upon your posts, I think if it were me, I would be uncomfortable continuing in that workplace. Things have a tendency to 'normalize' when of those concerned leaves, but perhaps both of you would be better off finding a new employer. I definitely do not like the way your manager went about trying to poison the workplace with your coworkers. Frankly, I think an argument could be made that she has created a hostile workplace. However, I think your best remedy is for both of you to find new employment.

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Go to the HR meeting with the primary purpose of understanding the policies. Review them and ask questions to your satisfaction. It seems like a lot will be cleared up through doing that.

The charge nurse position is a lower level supervisory role, even if it isn't permanent/q shift and even if you are not being separately compensated for it. But IANAL or an HR person; HR will let you know the role descriptions associated with CN and what it means as related to this issue.

You have proposed a solution, but is that solution without consequence to the rest of the unit? Not really. It means that your and your SO's scheduling has even more restrictions associated with it than that of other employees. Scheduling restrictions are something a company may choose to accept related to their own goals/philosophies, such as when they opt to accommodate student schedules; I just don't know that you will get the same consideration for a personal dating relationship. And again, I don't know the legalities of it.

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It has definitely been way more difficult working on the unit since that occurred as we have had many uncomfortable interactions with coworkers and it's all anyone seems to want to talk about with us now. It's been a huge distraction while we've been trying to do patient care and I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn't slightly concerned the whole thing was affecting my patient care.

Okay, please take this neutrally. I have no reason to care who you do/don't date, so it isn't personal. This is how it will be looked at, and rightfully should be:

These situations do generally affect the workplace. They cause headaches; that's why they ever came on HRs' radars to begin with. They become fodder for gossip, they often raise issues of fairness and favoritism, and they increase people's petty suspicions even when great care is taken to maintain professionalism, etc., etc., etc. This is why it's become more commonplace to self-disclose early on and take the HR-required (or recommended) actions so that both parties can comfortably maintain their employment with the company. I don't think you will get far with a concern about how this is affecting patient care.

I agree it was crappy to fan the flames as your manager did, but be very sure that s/he will portray those conversations in a way that makes them look only appropriate. (Informing people, ensuring legal bases were covered, investigating concerns, etc).

Edited by JKL33

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4 Posts; 248 Profile Views

Thanks for your advice on this situation. We’ve known that we couldn’t keep working together forever so we’ve been enjoying the opportunity to be able to work together while it’s lasted.

We have ultimately been understanding that this does affect the workplace in a negative way because accommodations have to be made if you allow it to continue. However, everything was fine up until our manager found out about us, and since then everything has been made very public in negative ways that now I feel like one of needs to quickly find a place to transfer away from the unit just to spare everyone on the unit from the drama that has been created.

I have an interview with another manager within the hospital right before our meeting with HR, and as long as that goes well my intentions going into the HR meeting will be to have HR help facilitate that transfer as soon as possible just to put an end to all of this given everything that has happened so far. I’m just hoping this whole situation hasn’t gotten so public that it affects my ability to get the job on the new unit in a transfer.

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