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  1. #1
    WilliamReuben is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    25

    Threatened at work

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Texas

    I'm a nurse, working in pediatric intensive care. Last Friday, I relieved another nurse for lunch, assuming care of her patient. While providing some urgent care to the child, the child's family threatened me with physical violence and death.

    I immediately informed my supervisor, as my manager wasn't available, and the doctor in the unit. The doctor wanted to go in and "lay down the law" with the family about appropriate communication with the staff, but some how it was decided to allow this family therapist (who has worked with the family previously to deal with the stress of their child's illness) to address the concerns.

    This therapist discussed her strategy with me, telling me it's important to be "gentle" with these people and that this family always gets "ornery" when the child has a bad day. She said she was going to "go in the backdoor" to reach them and tell them that it's ok to be mad and stressed, but that the "guy talk" is too much for the "young ladies" who work here. I was upset by this approach (actually I think it was total BS - it wasn't "guy talk" and would have been threatening no matter how old/young I was) and told my supervisor that I will not continue to work in a place that allows families to threaten me. So my supervisor went with the therapist, but all that was said by her was that gun talk isn't appropriate in this environment.

    I discussed this with my family, and my husband and father are furious and feel like the hospital did nothing to protect me and the rest of the staff. My husband, in particular, feels that security should have at least been notified, if not the police, to have a record of what happened and have everyone aware in case of further problems. My husband actually doesn't want me to go back to work there if further action is not taken.

    I don't feel safe. This child will inevitably die - it's a matter of when, not if. And if child's family gets 'ornery' when child has a bad day, I'm worried about what will happen when child dies. I have refused to care for child again, but still have to walk past the family in the halls, in the waiting room, and the rest of the parking lot. They know my first and last name, where the employee parking lot is, and roam around the rest of the hospital, including the cafeteria, lobby, etc. All these areas are areas that I have to walk through to get to work. Also, if there was an emergency with child, I'd be obligated to help.

    I don't know how to handle this, but I do feel my husband is right to insist more be done. I'm worried about my job, though, if I make a big deal about it (for in the minds of my unit, the issue has been "resolved.") My hospital puts an enormous value on the satisfaction of their patients.

    My questions are: do I have the right to talk to security myself, if my manager refuses? Can they fire me for my concerns for my safety? My husband wants to file a restraining order (not sure if that's overboard or not), but how would that work with me working there and their child being there, with them needing to visit? What kind of legal rights do I have to feel safe at work?

    Thank you.
  2. #2
    Beth3 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    14,991
    do I have the right to talk to security myself, if my manager refuses? Sure. No laws prevent you from doing this. But I (a) doubt security is going to do anything contrary to management's decision and (b) you may find your bosses not very pleased with you that you went around then and tried to take matters into your own hands.

    Can they fire me for my concerns for my safety? Yes, if you are insubordinate and disregard how management has decided to handle the situation.

    My husband wants to file a restraining order (not sure if that's overboard or not), but how would that work with me working there and their child being there, with them needing to visit? Your husband is not a party to this and he can't file for a restraining order on your behalf. And yes, I think that is going way overboard. Even IF a judge agreed to a RO (which does not appear at all likely), how, exactly is that going to work? Either the family cannot come and see their dying child when you're at work or you can't work when they're there.

    What kind of legal rights do I have to feel safe at work? Not too much, actually. Apparently this family has a history of being difficult and perhaps making theats before - which has never been followed through on. I don't know what exactly they said since you haven't shared it but I don't see any reason to believe that you are actually in any danger. You filled in for the primary care nurse for an hour. I can't imagine you'd been the family's focal point for their grief when the child dies.
    A person, who is nice to you, but rude to a waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

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