I am fired for a week!

Well, actually, I am fired for three days. (The euphemism is an in joke at work, but the fact is no joke, I am suspended without pay.) I also have two days off coming this week, as well, and if they don’t want to leave me with extra weekend days off, and piss off a bunch of my coworkers, those will be Thursday and Friday. So basically, I am fired for the whole week.

I am certainly not pleased by the loss of money, nor the 14 hours of leave I will not accumulate this pay period (nine annual, and five sick.) But, to be honest, I got great huge piles of both sick and annual leave (650 sick, and 293 annual, not to mention seventy hours or so of other types of leave.) The pain of the loss of money is mitigated somewhat by the fact that I recently took a voluntary demotion because the money was trivial compared to the stress of that particular promotion. (I lack ambition to an extent that boggles the minds of most folks.)I am not going to so much as miss a credit card payment. I doubt that I will need to get money out of savings, unless I have a big party. The embarrassment at work, for me is almost non existent. (Most of the folks who matter to me are madder about it than I am.) The state gets to pay people to work overtime for four full days because I will be out for three days. Not only that, there are actual shouting matches going on about who will have to work when and with whom. These are real live public temper tantrums, in the work place, while no work is being done.

But, I need some advice from cooler heads. See, after the three days, I am supposed to have two days off. But the overtime that everyone is working while I am off, and the fact that our immediate supervisor is also not working this week, leaves the workplace critically short staffed. So, the bosses bosses boss is thinking of scheduling me to come in on Thursday, and Friday, to work, to get minimal coverage, since it won’t be overtime for me. I have made fairly loud fun of the system that is going to suspend me, and then manage to turn a three day suspension into a one day suspension because they can’t manage to keep the job covered.

So, what is the consensus? Should I come in two days that I am supposed to be off, and limit the financial damage, (It isn’t enough to alter the loss of accrual of leave.) or stay at home just to let them miss me for another two days?

The other question is, what the heck should I do with a three day holiday, or a five day holiday for which I have no plans at all?


“You could park a car in the shadow of his ass.” ~ Geena Davis, in Thelma and Louise ~

All that and you’re not even going to mention why you were suspended? I think disclosing that much to us is necessary and fair before anyone advises you on what you should do with your “vacation”. How else are we to know if you should spend it lounging in Cabo San Lucas or sitting in the corner thinking about what you’ve done?

I’d probably work so as not to hurt your co-workers who seem to have taken your side. Certainly, no one could blame you for not working though.

Do you mind telling us why you were suspended?

I got suspended for lifting a guy up without help. It’s my second offense. I didn’t get suspended for breaking his hip, which didn’t happen at the same time. That was an accident. I feel really bad about that, but not at all bad about the out of policy lift. For one thing it would not have been possible to follow policy, . . . yadda yadda, I don’t feel any guilt at all about the simple act, which had no negative consequences. Yeah I learned my lesson. Rip off my buttons, and break my pencil.

Is that mea enough culpa?


“What have you done to that cat? It looks half dead!” ~ Mrs. Erwin Schrodinger ~

What is your job? This has much bearing on the issue since it would help us decide if it is alright for your company to be understaffed and less efficient.

This is neither germaine to your question (about which I have no particular opinion) nor does it probably pertain to your particular situation, but I’ve worked designing equipment for both aerial manlifts and telescoping material handlers (forklift mounted on a telescoping boom). It was not uncommon to have customers bitching about how we limited their ability to do work with our ratings and load envelopes, how they know they can lift more with this piece of equipment ('cause they do it all the time), et cetera. These are also the same folks that would call up screaming when something broke, or they tipped a machine and did $20k of non-warranty damage because they did something to exceed those “bullshit” load charts we published. I never had to be depositioned because of an injury or death due to alleged equipment failure, but a couple of fellow engineers did, and it invariably ended up that someone did an improper operation. I deal with the same thing now with the Air Force and the rocket handling and ground support equipment.

The point is that there is a reason for policies and load restrictions, and as much of pain in the ass they might be some times, it’s always a good idea to follow them unless you have some specific and well-considered reason to waive said policy. It may be CYA for the company or manufacturer, but it’s also intended to make the work environment safer, 'cause nobody wants an accident. If the policy is bad or unreasonable (and this is sometimes the case) then it’s best to go through the proper channels and get it changed rather than to do things your own way.

Sermon over.


I care for profoundly handicapped people. I have been doing it for 28 years. Long ago there was no such thing as “lifts” and “two man lifts” and I carried people around most of the day. I can lift a ninety pound person and move them a foot and a half safely. It is true that some people cannot. I can. I have demonstrated the exact lift technique on two social workers, one physical therapist, and the director of the facility, none of whom weigh less than 140. None of us were hurt. The equipment we had available at the time would not work in the place we were. The broken hip mentioned is the first time I have ever injured a client, and it was not in any way involved in the lift for which I am being punished, or any other lift, or violation of policy, or poor judgments. Three separate state and local government agencies investigated, and independently and unanimously agreed that I was not guilty of neglect in any way. We had an accident.

The disciplinary action is about another matter. (Do I think that there might be a bureaucratic influence in the decision to discipline me now? Duh.) I made a choice to help a client avoid nine hours straight in a wheel chair. It turns out that choice included violating a policy. Nine hours in a chair violates a policy. The two man lift that I was advised that I should have waited for is also a violation of the exact same policy. It’s bureaucracy. Someone must be blamed. Someone must be punished. It’s my turn in the barrel.

This is also a subject about which I know a great deal more than I am willing to explain in MPSIMS. GQ a thread, and I may join in with some expert opinion. Technique and practice are not always so much about safety as about liability.

Okay, I am a bad man. I don’t feel like spending much time in self loathing, or recrimination. So how many votes is it for “spend a week contemplating the error of your ways?”

Any other thoughts?

By the way, good point about not letting my friends at work suffer from my absence. I will put that on the scale for sure.


Just so you know, I was joking about sitting in the corner thinking about what you’ve done. I was just curious, as it’s kind of tantalizing to start a thread with a subject line “I’m fired for a week!” and not say why. I think that is the true error of your ways, and you should spend the week thinking about how to write better threads. :smiley:

Since you have been in the field for so long, I can assume you really care about the patients that you work with. If the place is going to be left “critically short staffed,” I would fear that my clients weren’t gettting the proper attention and care as they would if you were there. In addition, you would be screwing the staff who did come in and have to work as part of a smaller crew. My vote is to get to work as soon as you can. This is coming from a supervisor at an agency that provides 24 hr. care, who has worked his way up from the bottom, and who always wants to have a low staff/client ratio, not for the agency’s sake (actually, the money folks need a little convincing), but for the client’s and staff’s sake.

I don’t know how your place is set up, but one idea for the future is to let the person in charge of standards compliance know that you were put in a situation in which you had to chose between two competing policies. This kinda stuff shouldn’t happen.

It seems like, unless you had plans specifically for Thursday and Friday, you’re going to get the two days leave you wanted in any case, and aren’t going to be mightily inconvenienced by this suspension. The people who made the suspension decision are not the ones who would be inconvenienced by your absence - that would be your co-workers and patients. So I’d say be the better man and go back to work

Let me see if I understand this.[ul]
[li]Leaving the guy in the chair for 9 hours was a policy violation[/li][li]Lifting him out by yourself was a policy violation[/li][li]Using a two-man lift to get him out was a policy violation[/li][/ul] If I’m reading this correctly, you couldn’t leave him in the chair, but you also weren’t allowed to take him OUT of the chair.

Who makes up these rules? If this isn’t a clear Catch-22 absurdity in action, I’ve never seen one before.

I’m sorry it’s your turn in the barrel over something so bleedin’ assinine. Hope it’s a gentle ride.

As for your original question, I’d say that, much as I’d be tempted to stand on principle (of the “you got yourselves into this mess with a poorly thought out policy, you get yourselves out of it” variety), I think I’d go in, if only so my friends who’ve been standing up for me don’t get screwed over.

First, I deliver prescription medications to two facilities that provide care for profoundly handicapped people. I am sometimes moved to tears by the plight of these people and I am equally moved by the loving care I see provided to them. You are a truly good person to follow your calling for all those years.

Second, I have witnessed the problems that result in such facilities when they are short-staffed. So, my vote is that you return to work ASAP just to relieve your fellow workers of an undue burden.

Third, the people who made the decision to suspend you should be the ones who have to take up the slack.

To begin with, I’m mostly a follow-the-rules kinda guy when it comes to the workplace. I know what can happen when they’re not followed and I’m slightly paranoid that it might happen to me or someone I know one day as a result of them not being followed. That’s not to say I won’t break them, but my general rule of thumb is that if the need is great enough and the consequences of something going wrong as a result of a misstep while breaking them are minimal (i.e. little to no damage or inconvenience to anyone) then I’ll go ahead and do that. If I’m caught I’ll take my lumps but if I genuinely feel that the rule that’s broken is truly asinine, I’ll speak up about it.

Having said that I’d also be sensitive to the difficulties my place of employment would be going through in part as a result of my absence, as as much as I would like to have spitefully stuck it to them, I’d likely want to go ahead and get back to work as soon as possible – especially because your work involves helping people who can’t help themselves. Were I in your line of work and so compassionate towards my charges as you obviously are, I would be more angry over bureaucracy getting in the way of my helping people than it being simply stupid bureaucratic bullshit. For that reason if for no other would I want to get back ASAP.

It sounds like (and IANA lawyer, but perhaps you should contact one experienced in employment law) you should consider writing a letter to management detailing the situation and conundrum in which you were placed, why you opted to break Regulation A rather than Regulation B (i.e. for the patient’s health and comfort), and request mediation or arbitration regarding your punishment as well as clarification of the apparent conflict for future reference. And cc: your personnel department. Sometimes the only way to fight bureaucracy is to let it feed on itself. You shouldn’t be punished for being placed in a situation where regs gave you no correct action.

As for the lift policy; it may be that you are capable of doing the lift safely; however, another aide or nurse (I’m assuming you’re one or the other) may see this and, not realizing the requirements or training to do said lift, may attempt to emulate and cause injury. Then when he explains why he did it (“I was just doing the same thing Triskadecamus does every day,”) management is now liable for allowing some workers, whatever their abilities, to violate policy. This is a bad position for them even if you’re perfectly capable of executing the maneuver.

I’m not saying it’s a good policy (especially since I don’t know any more about it than you’ve just described); perhaps it’s an entirely unworkable policy and needs to be altered to reflect reality. I imagine that you’ve already argued strenuously against it and failed against a wall of bureacratic indifference. And maybe you’re right, especially if the alternative is to violate other policies. But such rules do often exist for a reason, and may extend further than you think.

Anyway, rum luck; I hope you can get it worked out so this doesn’t happen again.


I understand the desire to keep from overburdening your supportive co-workers, but in fact, that’s exactly what management expects. Caregivers have always been expected to sacrifice self for the greater good. In a perfect world, those managers who suspended you would have to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, that never happens.

I was once involved in a city wide nursing strike.
The various hospital administrations did nothing to fill the void left by the absense of nursing staff. Their reasoning was, that we wouldn’t leave our patients without care.
It was hard, but we did it. Patients survived, and our demands were met.

I’m not going to advise you to take the time, you have to listen to your own conscience. I will only say that it’s probably a zero sum gain, if you go in.

Stranger On A Train has a good point, in that documenting the trap you were in may help someone else some time, but I wouldn’t count on it being in your lifetime. (yes, as a matter of fact, I am a bit bitter.)

Well, at least you are not alone! :wink:


I admire what you do and have loads of respect for it. I agree that you were caught between a rock and a hard place on this one, and that you made a decision in the best interests of your patient. I must also agree with Stranger on a Train that the policies are in place for a reason. Usually the reason is to limit liability, but sometimes they are there to protect patients. If other staff members see you not following policy and getting away with it, it encourages them to not follow policy - and they may not be as capable as you are.

My husband is a private duty RN for a quadriplegic patient. When this patient was released from the Shepard Spinal Center following his accident, he was placed in a nursing home. Two of the staffers there decided they could move him from his wheelchair to his bed without a lift. They dropped him on his face, breaking his nose and both of the orbial bones. Can you imagine what it is like to see the floor coming at you and not being able to put your hands out to break your fall? There is a lawsuit pending against the nursing home as we speak.

I am not downplaying your skills or your comptence, and I am damn sure not questioning your devotion. It’s just that the rules are there to protect the patients from the staff members who don’t have the skills and strength you do - or (sometimes) the common sense.

If I read this right, you get approximately 50% of the year off. (650 hours + 293 + 70 = 25+ weeks)

You should have plenty of ideas about what to do with a week off.

Take the extra leave. In fact, take an extra week, and go and find a better employer.

Well, that pile didn’t grow up in only a year. But, I get lots of leave. Mostly I get more than I can take in a year, so over the years I end up having to plan a long vacation at least once every other year. Last year It was 6 weeks of picture taking on the southern Atlantic coast (check the links in my sig). Next year I think The Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest, probably for another six weeks. You are reminding me about one of the nice things about my job.