Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (6)6 Jun 98


    Quick Summary: A hospital has the legitimate right to expect nurses to report for work promptly at the start of nursing report wearing the attire prescribed by hospital rules, i.e. a white nursing uniform or the hospital’s scrubs.

    However, if a minority nurse is disciplined for not following the hospital’s rules, the minority nurse has the legitimate right to question whether non-minorities were disciplined less severely for the same infractions. UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, ELEVENTH CIRCUIT, 1998.

   The case before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama) was a very complicated employment discrimination lawsuit by a minority licensed practical nurse against a hospital where she had worked on the med/surg floor before being fired.

   Among other things, the nurse had come in for report a few minutes late and was still wearing her street clothes, contrary to hospital policy that nurses report for duty on time in proper nursing attire as specified by hospital rules.

   The nurse still could question whether non-minorities were treated more favorably after breaking the hospital’s work rules, even if she admittedly violated a legitimate rule. Jones v. Bessemer Carraway Medical Center, 137 F. 3d 1306 (11th Cir., 1998).