December 03, 2007 | | Comments 2
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Every manager’s discrimination fears

Managers are forever grateful for the supportive teams they work with and all have staff they wish could be duplicated on a copy machine. Because we work with a variety of people, challenges will always be present. Our “Hot topics” will look at the reality of these challenges, helping managers by sharing their experiences. We can all benefit from those who have had success in meeting these situations of conflict.

How do you handle the employee who “everyone” knows needs to be shown the door, you have all the necessary documentation, but there is a “discrimination fear”? The employee may be obese, have a physical challenge, be from another country, or be in a recovery program for an addiction. According to the EEOC (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), types of discrimination include;

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Equal pay
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Retaliation
  • Sex
  • Sexual harassment

Some employees may verbally threaten their manager by using the term discrimination and others use the weight of the nursing shortage as ammunition. The most recent case I was involved with was an employee who had threatened both the manager and the HR director with racial discrimination as they were walking the employee through the steps of termination.

In 2006, 75,768 individuals filed charges with the EEOC with almost 36% of them related to racial claims. gender discrimination was the next most commonly field charge at a rate of just under 31%. Of all the claims made in 2006, there were 403 suits actually filed. You can read more details about the charges, claims and outcomes of the cases at the Web site

What experiences have you had with this and how did you handle it? Were you surprised by the outcome? Who was your greatest resource that helped to guide you through the process? Did you find yourself in a situation where the organization was best served by “settling” the case?

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Filed Under: Hot topics


Shelley Cohen About the Author: Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN, is the owner of Health Resources Unlimited, a company she founded in 1997 to meet the ongoing professional development needs of nurse managers and emergency department nurses. With a passion for dealing with the realities of the challenges in healthcare delivery, she embraces a direct and humorous approach to problem solving, her consulting work, and training programs. As an author and national speaker, she brings more than 30 years of nursing experience to a platform that is relevant and timely. Her ability to maintain a current perspective of nursing issues is accomplished through her role as a prn staff nurse. As an advocate for children in foster care, Shelley and her husband, Dennis, operate a non-profit organization, DoubleCreek, at their home in Tennessee.

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  1. Human Resource professionals have been very helpful in walking me through difficult discrimination situations in the past. As Nurse Leaders, we
    work with diverse populations, and I think we have to seek appropriate training to prepare ourselves for addressing these situations with
    sensitivity to avoid being viewed as discriminatory in any way. I work in an organization with a large number of foreign nurses, and our HR
    Department constantly works on strategies to help nurses acclimate to this environment while also teaching us to be sensitive to and respectful of
    the differences we face in dealing with a diverse workforce. I appreciate your comments on the topic, Shelley. The information is a helpful
    reminder to Nurse Leaders to familiarize ourselves with current literature and case findings related to workplace discrimination.

  2. If you look at everyone through the eyes of a blind person or pretend that everyone is purple with stripes there should be no problem related to differences as stated. The most important aspect of creating the trail to the door is paper. Document, document, document and never have something in an employee’s file that they are not aware of. I write anecdotals for everything and use the “3 strikes” your out logic.

    When you rate your employees rate them using a 9 box square that almost looks like a tic-tac-toe graph. The first line is A, second is B and third is C. From the right side to the left you need to number the vertacle lines as 1, 2 and 3. An A1 (Top notch employee) should be in the upper right hand Corner, whereas a C3 (ready to be led out the door employee) should be in the bottom left hand corner. No one should be a C3 and both the A1 should be on plans. A1 the Developmental Plan and C3 the Improvement Plan. If you need any further guidance…let me know!

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