Placed on Performance Improvement Plan and Angry

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I have been advised I am being placed on a PIP. I am very angry and feel it is unnecessary. I want to seek legal counsel and direct my issues and concerns to the very top person I can. How should I begin?

    Dear Placed on PIP,

    It's natural to feel anger when you believe you're being treated unfairly. It's important to channel those feelings constructively and in ways that will help you.

    If you have a union, definitely start with your union representative. Your union rep can accompany you to all disciplinary meetings and serve as your advocate.

    Without knowing the details, legal counsel will only help if the law was violated. For example, if you were discriminated against or fired unfairly. Are you sure you want to pursue legal action against your employer, or are you planning to quit?

    If this is a legitimate performance improvement plan, then you should have been given actionable and measurable goals. Focus on the goals and how you can meet them to satisfy the concern.

    Read What to Do if You've Been Given a Warning.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 22
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,480; Likes: 4,355


  3. by   adventure_rn
    The addiction/recovery forum folks are always talking about TAANA (TAANA Executive Office - Home) as a source to find attorneys with nursing knowledge/background.

    Quote from Nurse Beth
    Without knowing the details, legal counsel will only help if the law was violated. For example, if you were discriminated against or fired unfairly. Are you sure you want to pursue legal action against your employer, or are you planning to quit?
    I definitely agree with Nurse Beth. You're feeling antagonized by your employer, but hiring an attorney to go to battle against them is only going to antagonize them back. If management feels as though you're threatening them, they'll have even more incentive to fire you as quickly as possible. If your plan is to continue working on that unit, you don't want to have any more of a target on your back; even if they don't fire you for the initial offense (which you say was unfair), they can zero in on your performance until they find something to call you out on, and they can definitely make the experience of working on that unit very unpleasant. If your plan is to quit, then you really don't need an attorney anyway unless you're planning to sue them. You only have legal recourse against them if a law or a contract has been broken.

    Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to have a legal consultation to discuss your options. However, I'd tread very cautiously if your plan is to try to stay at your current job and be taken off of the PIP, since that could easily backfire (as described above).
  4. by   Oldmahubbard
    You give no specifics about the job, how long you have worked there, or the performance improvement plan, so it is impossible to know what is really happening.

    You are really angry, and probably with good reason.

    Hopefully, there are specific and measurable goals in the PIP, as mentioned above. While you are cooling off and assessing what is your next step, you should focus on those.

    In the meantime, the union may be of some assistance, if there is one. Moral support, at the very least.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, PIPs are commonly used as a way to generate a paper trail against an employee for the purpose of termination. The usual motivation is political.

    No one's work is so perfect that it will hold up to intense scrutiny. They can dust off a book that hasn't been opened in 30 years, and find some rule in there that you didn't follow.

    You best bet is to sharpen up your CV. In the overwhelming majority of employment situations, the employer can terminate you without a reason.

    It is also almost impossible to prove you are being targeted because you are a member of a protected class, if that is the case.

    The labor laws of the US are very much in favor of the employer.

    Again, without any specifics about how your performance was "deficient", it is hard to give further advice, but I getting a lawyer involved is likely to make the situation worse.
  5. by   inthecosmos
    I wish there were more specifics. We could offer better advice.
  6. by   caliotter3
    Protracted anger will only hurt your health and ultimate well-being. Legal advice is not necessary in this case if no law is being violated. Rather than put up useless resistance that may only expedite your termination, start looking for a new job. However, if the employer has a legitimate complaint about your job performance, then make the necessary changes even if you decide to change jobs.
  7. by   BoogieScience
    Quote from Oldmahubbard
    The labor laws of the US are very much in favor of the employer.
    In California the labor laws heavily favor the employee. I would imagine it's similar to other states.

    It's not the end of the world to receive a PIP. Use it as an opportunity to improve on what you need to do. Hope everything works out for you.
  8. by   Oldmahubbard
    I am curious how labor laws in California favor the employee?

    Does the employer have to prove something against an employee in California in order to terminate them?

    In NY, no reason for termination is needed.
  9. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from Oldmahubbard
    In NY, no reason for termination is needed.
    I think many states are "at will" states where reasons are not needed for termination as long as the reason is not illegal (such as discrimination). There is actually good info on Wikipedia on the various exemptions to "at will" in certain states: At-will employment - Wikipedia
  10. by   Insperation
    I think every state except for Montana is a "at will" employer state. In order to win a lawsuit against an employer, you have to be able to prove that they fired you based on something like discrimination; ie because you are hispanic, female, pregnant, etc.

    It's not like an employer fires you based on performance and you win a lawsuit because you disagree with it. They don't need a solid reason per se, as long as that reason is not illegal or based in discrimination.

    Just follow the PIP and show your boss that you're trying your best to get better. You can still be angry but don't fight the system, you will lose.