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Terminated in probation - no reason given

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by Anon101 Anon101 (Member)

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Hi all, I worked at a hospital for around 9 months and accumulated approximately 1500 hours. I was 12 hours away from probation, when I was handed a letter that said I was being terminated, without any reason specified. Based on information from co-workers, a particular co-worker complained against me which lead to this. The union also stated that a reason wasn't necessary, and that a grievance even if filed wouldn't be effective so it wasn't done. This is my first job out of nursing school. I'm now in the process of applying to other jobs, many of whom ask a reference from this employer and also ask me what my reason for leaving was. What should I do in this situation to secure employment elsewhere?

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TriciaJ has 37 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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They may have simply hired too many people and had a low threshhold to let some people go.  Do ask your previous employer for a reference; their response might at least give you a bit more information.

In the nine  months you worked there, did you form a good working relationship with anyone there, particularly a charge nurse?  I would ask those people for references.  Good luck.

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1 minute ago, TriciaJ said:

They may have simply hired too many people and had a low threshhold to let some people go.  Do ask your previous employer for a reference; their response might at least give you a bit more information.

In the nine  months you worked there, did you form a good working relationship with anyone there, particularly a charge nurse?  I would ask those people for references.  Good luck.

Hi there, thanks for your response. It wasn't a layoff because they posted my position up for hiring after I was terminated. I believe it had to do with the complaint. I inquired about a reference, but the union said that the hospital doesn't provide references for fear of litigation, so all inquiries are directed to HR - I'm just not sure what they might say to any prospective employer (I'm assuming that if I was terminated for a complaint, it would probably be negative). I did have a good relationship with some of my co-workers though, one of whom has been working there for 20-something years. She wasn't a designated charge nurse though, as we all rotated depending on who was working a particular shift (i.e. I also worked as charge for most of my employment there). But I did orientate with her, so that'd make her a 'supervisor' in a sense right?

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hppygr8ful has 15 years experience and specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

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21 minutes ago, Anon101 said:

……….I inquired about a reference, but the union said that the hospital doesn't provide references for fear of litigation...........

……….. I'm just not sure what they might say to any prospective employer (I'm assuming that if I was terminated for a complaint, it would probably be negative)……….

First of all do you work in an "At Will State" use this list to determine if you do.

https://www.upcounsel.com/at-will-employment-states

In at "At Will' state either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment agreement at any time for any reason with or without notice. In some professions such as nursing giving appropriate notice is a courtesy so as not to leave the employer in a bind but is not required. 

For the same reason that they do not give references it is unlikely that they will give you a negative review. Use your status to go ahead and file for unemployment. If they dispute,  file an appeal and stick to your guns. (Davey Do has some great stories to tell about back pay and reparations.)

During orientation both parties can end the relationship at any time. You do have a right to schedule an appointment and review your employee file. You may not take pictures or copies without a subpoena as the file and information in it belongs to your employer. Scheduling this is a bold move and puts your employer on notice. If they deny you and you are prepared financially and legally to fight - go for it. 

It might be best to seek references from other professionals you encounter in the workplace. I have never in 20 years asked my employer for a reference. Most of my references come from Physicians and other industry professionals who know my professionalism and work ethic. 

Once after I had been fired for cause after doing something pretty egregious (Go back and read my story on the Nurses in Recovery Forum) I simply stated to the prospective employer that the former job "was not a good fit" which was not a lie.  My old employer never gave me a bad reference. As I had been duly punished by the BON and in their eyes rehabilitated. I can never work for that hospital again but so be it. 

Best of luck to you and I hope this helps.

Hppy

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

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     To me this is a failing of the union there should still be "due process" for an employee (it should be part of company process and shouldn't even require a union, just basic decency).  How do we know that a complaint was filed? If it was filed how do we know it was based on a valid reason? Maybe the complainer didn't like you because of your  racial or religious attributes, or your sexual orientation these are usually "protected" reasons even in "free will" states and if no "due process" is in place how can the system be held accountable to basic constitutional guarantees?  Of course these are battles that you personally, are not going to want to fight (probably) and the best that you can do is apply to jobs and use friends, coworkers and school mates as references. Still as someone who is always decrying the necessity of unions, it pains me when they fall so short (as they did in your case). When we neglect the rights (in this case due process rights) of the least among us (as in those on probation) we not only support injustice but weaken our own prospects in the future.

      Hopefully, cosmic karma will balance the scales against those who wrongfully complained against you and those who failed to get your side of the story.  I wonder if they ever stopped to consider the potentially devastating repercussions that their actions might have upon your psyche, your income and by extension the situation of your family (will your child have to go with less food, miss daycare, or the parent you care for have to do without some medicine you help pay for).  Will some patient that you may have helped or encouraged have to go without because your position hasn't been filled (or is filled by a lessor person who is better at getting along with the "bully" responsible for your leaving)? Will some other nurse have to take a heavier load (until your job is replaced) and consequently make an error or oversight that would have otherwise not occurred?  When we harm others unjustly, our sins are not just against that person, but can be multiplied to an untold extent.

Edited by myoglobin
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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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Even in union facilities, the probationary period is for determining if an employee is a good fit for the unit, and can be let go with no reason given whatsoever. However, a good manager would have provided ongoing coaching during that time to help the employee improve and to make them aware of any issues that are occurring. 

As a manager, I'm very grateful for the probationary period, but when I have an employee that I suspect is not going to make it, I would have previously met with them at least twice to discuss the issues and offer them suggestions on improvement prior to terminating them. 

It seems very unfair that you were not given any coaching in order to improve whatever it is that caused your term (DID you receive any previous coaching?). 

I’m surprised the probationary period is 9 months, that seems quite long to me. 

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

3,685 Visitors; 504 Posts

53 minutes ago, klone said:

Even in union facilities, the probationary period is for determining if an employee is a good fit for the unit, and can be let go with no reason given whatsoever. However, a good manager would have provided ongoing coaching during that time to help the employee improve and to make them aware of any issues that are occurring. 

As a manager, I'm very grateful for the probationary period, but when I have an employee that I suspect is not going to make it, I would have previously met with them at least twice to discuss the issues and offer them suggestions on improvement prior to terminating them. 

It seems very unfair that you were not given any coaching in order to improve whatever it is that caused your term (DID you receive any previous coaching?). 

I’m surprised the probationary period is 9 months, that seems quite long to me. 

Having personally experienced the OP's situation twice (once at my first hospital at Methodist in Indianapolis, and then again when we first moved to Florida at Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares) this really hits home. I was never given any negative feedback by the manager regarding my progress (both times were ICU).  In the first instance I was "terminated" from the ICU position, but rehired at the same hospital into Med/Surg (which eventually became PCU, and I was blessed to work with several great classmates who graduated when I did).  On the second occasion (in Florida) I was moved to PCU at the same hospital (again no warnings, just a big meeting with the manager, my preceptor, and some HR people who said they didn't think I was ready for ICU). The Florida hospital was especially distressing because I had almost two years working at Methodist by the time a large level one trauma center, and the Florida hospital was tiny (my Methodist PCU patients were far sicker than the vast majority of their ICU patients)  In the second case (Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares) I felt part of the reason was that my SO had been hired as house supervisor and many of the local employees were resentful of the hospital bringing someone from out of state (like we were having just moved from Indiana) and that I may have been on the receiving end (however, this is speculation since no specific reasons were given, other than my IV skills not being good, and they still are not today 10 years later part of the reason I went back for my PMHNP).  I have to tell you that these were psychologically devastating events for me. I  approached nursing like a calling from the Lord  and was a darn fine nurse at the time (save for my IV and procedural skills which have always been and remain weak) having read medical journals since about the age of 12 and who had completed about 200 credit hours of science classes with nearly a 4.0 GPA before even starting nursing school  also high 1500 SAT score (I also didn't take breaks or socialize and always tried to help my fellow ICU nurses bath patients, move patients, or anything else within my abilities however modest they might have been). Honest to God, my medical knowledge at the time would have rivaled most residents, and certainly exceeds mine today even ten years later. It was my life, my passion, my obsession.

 I've always worked to minimize rejection (never asked anyone out my whole life, and only would apply for jobs online or through classifieds) at virtually any cost. As much as I complain about my current hospital at least their low standards have enabled me to get many years of ICU experience and as bad as management can be my fellow employees are largely amazing and I will always have gratitude for being able to work with such fine people. 

However, my main point is that even a probationary employee deserves due process. Otherwise how can anyone have any confidence that the reasons stated for "not working out" are not based upon criteria that would be prohibited under state or federal law?  

Edited by myoglobin

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23 hours ago, hppygr8ful said:

First of all do you work in an "At Will State" use this list to determine if you do.

https://www.upcounsel.com/at-will-employment-states

In at "At Will' state either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment agreement at any time for any reason with or without notice. In some professions such as nursing giving appropriate notice is a courtesy so as not to leave the employer in a bind but is not required. 

For the same reason that they do not give references it is unlikely that they will give you a negative review. Use your status to go ahead and file for unemployment. If they dispute,  file an appeal and stick to your guns. (Davey Do has some great stories to tell about back pay and reparations.)

During orientation both parties can end the relationship at any time. You do have a right to schedule an appointment and review your employee file. You may not take pictures or copies without a subpoena as the file and information in it belongs to your employer. Scheduling this is a bold move and puts your employer on notice. If they deny you and you are prepared financially and legally to fight - go for it. 

It might be best to seek references from other professionals you encounter in the workplace. I have never in 20 years asked my employer for a reference. Most of my references come from Physicians and other industry professionals who know my professionalism and work ethic. 

Once after I had been fired for cause after doing something pretty egregious (Go back and read my story on the Nurses in Recovery Forum) I simply stated to the prospective employer that the former job "was not a good fit" which was not a lie.  My old employer never gave me a bad reference. As I had been duly punished by the BON and in their eyes rehabilitated. I can never work for that hospital again but so be it. 

Best of luck to you and I hope this helps.

Hppy

Thanks for your response. I've filed for unemployment benefits. I'm curious about the employee file part, in what circumstances would I want to look at my employee record? 

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11 hours ago, myoglobin said:

     To me this is a failing of the union there should still be "due process" for an employee (it should be part of company process and shouldn't even require a union, just basic decency).  How do we know that a complaint was filed? If it was filed how do we know it was based on a valid reason? Maybe the complainer didn't like you because of your  racial or religious attributes, or your sexual orientation these are usually "protected" reasons even in "free will" states and if no "due process" is in place how can the system be held accountable to basic constitutional guarantees?  Of course these are battles that you personally, are not going to want to fight (probably) and the best that you can do is apply to jobs and use friends, coworkers and school mates as references. Still as someone who is always decrying the necessity of unions, it pains me when they fall so short (as they did in your case). When we neglect the rights (in this case due process rights) of the least among us (as in those on probation) we not only support injustice but weaken our own prospects in the future.

      Hopefully, cosmic karma will balance the scales against those who wrongfully complained against you and those who failed to get your side of the story.  I wonder if they ever stopped to consider the potentially devastating repercussions that their actions might have upon your psyche, your income and by extension the situation of your family (will your child have to go with less food, miss daycare, or the parent you care for have to do without some medicine you help pay for).  Will some patient that you may have helped or encouraged have to go without because your position hasn't been filled (or is filled by a lessor person who is better at getting along with the "bully" responsible for your leaving)? Will some other nurse have to take a heavier load (until your job is replaced) and consequently make an error or oversight that would have otherwise not occurred?  When we harm others unjustly, our sins are not just against that person, but can be multiplied to an untold extent.

I did ask the employer for more information as to the reason for the termination, but they wouldn't provide it; the union also told me that according to their collective agreement, the employer could terminate within probation for no reason at all, unless it was for a "protected" reason like you mentioned which included arbitrary, discrimination, or bad faith. The union also said that I could proceed with arbitration but that the case would become public information and that future employers would be hesitant to hire me, and that I should just find another job (I'm not sure if it was just a scare tactic). I totally agree with what you've said. I feel like I've been wronged and didn't see this coming at all...especially because I passed my performance evaluation a few weeks prior. I also miss working with my patients. Hopefully karma does its job!

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1 hour ago, klone said:

Even in union facilities, the probationary period is for determining if an employee is a good fit for the unit, and can be let go with no reason given whatsoever. However, a good manager would have provided ongoing coaching during that time to help the employee improve and to make them aware of any issues that are occurring. 

As a manager, I'm very grateful for the probationary period, but when I have an employee that I suspect is not going to make it, I would have previously met with them at least twice to discuss the issues and offer them suggestions on improvement prior to terminating them. 

It seems very unfair that you were not given any coaching in order to improve whatever it is that caused your term (DID you receive any previous coaching?). 

I’m surprised the probationary period is 9 months, that seems quite long to me. 

Thanks for your response. The termination definitely wasn't for a performance issue, since I passed my evaluation with my manager a few weeks prior. All I know is that a co-worker with significant seniority filed some sort of complaint against me. The employer wouldn't really elaborate though even after I requested more information regarding the nature of the complaint or the name of the complainant (I have a feeling I know who it is though based on what other co-workers told me). Yes the probationary period was quite lengthy and that should've been a red flag, but it was my first job out of nursing school and I overlooked it I guess; it's definitely something I'll consider though in the future. 

Edited by Anon101

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You need to ask yourself this question. You cannot ask others why you were terminated. It's just throwing the problem to others hands. We cannot help you. You need to find the answer yourself.

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Jory has 10 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNM.

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I honestly think that if an employee makes a complaint, the complaining employee shouldn't be allowed to "hide" behind their managers.

There are toxic nurses in every hospital.  Not everyone tells the truth.

Managers need to give everyone the opportunity to defend themselves and if you make a complaint, you need to be professional enough to sit in the room with the person you are making the accusations against.  

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