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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12627
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I work as a travel nurse and I was verbally assaulted by a physician with multiple f bombs

Customer Question

I work as a travel nurse and I was verbally assaulted by a physician with multiple f bombs thrown at me. He called the next day and apologized to my nurse supervisor for his behavior but not to me. The director of nurses texted me an apology for the physicians behavior. I wrote an incident about it and turned it into my charge nurse whom turned it in to the director whom told me she was turning the incident in. I feel very bullied and intimidated now to work with this physician. What can I do about this? I was told by multiple employees that this was not his first time doing this to someone. The hospital did not have an incident report sheet or process for me to file an complaint, they told me to just write it out and turn it in to them.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. I am very sorry to hear about the extremely unprofessional behavior of this physician. As far as the law is concerned, though, it may come as some surprise to hear that the conduct you describe is probably not actionable under any legal theory. This is because courts have continually clarified that our employment laws are not intended to act as a general civility code. In other words, there is nothing inherently illegal about being rude, disrespectful or unprofessional. Hostility and "verbal assaults" only become actionable under the law when they are motivated by or relate directly to legally protected traits, such as race, religion or gender, in which case it comes a civil rights issue. So, for example, if the doctor yelled racial slurs at you, that would likely give rise to a claim for hostile work environment. Likewise, if you could prove that the doctor was biased against women in the profession and was directing this hostility at you specifically because he sees you as inferior for being a woman, you would have a claim. But, again, unless you can make the specific connection to a legally protected trait (and the burden to do that falls on your shoulders) you are describing extremely unprofessional conduct that does not violate any law. In that case, your sole recourse is to complain to HR and to your supervisors. Although it's not illegal to curse at co-workers, most employers look down on this sort of behavior and will take adverse employment action against the offender even though they aren't legally required to. You can also request to be transferred to an area where you do not have direct contact with this doctor. It's important to emphasize, though, that these are requests, not demands which you would have any legal basis to make. Uunless you can link this treatment to a legally protected trait, your only power is the power of persuasion. I hope that you find this information helpful and am genuinely sorry if it is not what you were hoping to hear. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further. If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello again, I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get paid for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed. Very best wishes.