What Nurses Should Know About Their Workplace Rights

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If you work in the healthcare industry as a nurse or a nursing assistant, it is extremely important to know your rights when it comes to a safe and healthy workplace. As an article in Becker’s Hospital Reviewmakes clear, workplace violence is a serious problem for many nurses who are the target of violent behavior from patients and, in some cases, coworkers. At the same time, nurses can face discrimination in the workplace for a variety of reasons, from sex discrimination to age-related discrimination.

Many nurses who want to know more about their rights run a quick internet search and discover the Nurses’ Bill of Rights. It is important to recognize that, while the Nurses’ Bill of Rights outlines rights and responsibilities that would make the workplace better for many nurses, this is not a list of legal rights under federal or state law. In some situations, the elements of the Nurses’ Bill of Rights correspond in some ways with federal and state law. However, a nurse who faces significant difficulties or injuries in the workplace can only file a claim if the harm results from a violation of a state or federal law. We want to say more about what nurses should know about their workplace rights.

Nurses Have a Right to a Safe Workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines for employers to take steps to reduce workplace violence. As we noted above, workplace violence is a particularly problematic issue in the nursing profession. According to OSHA, when risk factors are identified for workplace violence, employers can prevent or minimize violence if they take appropriate precautions. Employers should “establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence,” and they should also implement a workplace violence prevention program.

If an employer knows of specific risk factors and fails to take action, a nurse who suffers injuries as a result of workplace violence may be able to file a claim.

Nurses Have a Right to Be Free From Certain Forms of Workplace Discrimination Under Federal and State Law

Like many other employees in a wide variety of fields, nurses have a right to work in an environment that is free from unlawful discrimination. Both Georgia state law and federal laws prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, disability, genetic information, and national origin. Under the FLSA, registered nurses (RNs) are nonexempt and are entitled to overtime pay. Many other nurses who are not RNs also may be nonexempt and eligible for overtime pay.

Many Nurses Have a Right to Overtime Pay

Many nurses are not classified as “exempt” employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and thus may be eligible for overtime pay. Whether a nurse is “exempt” depends on a number of different factors, such as a nurse’s license, duties, and rate of pay.

Contact a Georgia Employment Lawyer Assisting Nurses

Nurses have many rights in the workplace, including a right to a safe working environment. If you have questions or concerns about filing an employment law claim, you should discuss your case with a Georgia employment law attorney with experience helping nurses. An advocate at our firm can speak with you today about your options. Contact The Vaughn Law Firm for more information.