TERMINATION FOR CAUSE? YOUR EMPLOYER MUST REPORT YOU TO THE BOARD OF NURSING
Wait-What? Your nurse employer must report any termination for cause to the Missouri Board of Nursing. Reporting is mandatory within 15 days of termination. However, you cannot avoid this by resigning before termination. If you resign as a result of conduct which was grounds for termination, your employer must report you. See Missouri Statute 383.133.2.
The Board investigates each termination with its own investigators. Each investigator opens a file usually within 30 days of receipt. This varies based on the volume of complaints received for all nurses. The head investigator determines if there is probable cause to investigate further.
Probable Cause :
- If there is no probable cause to open a file, the investigator closes the file confidentially. The nurse won’t receive notice and may never know of the compliant.
- If there is probable cause, the investigator opens a complaint file. In that event, the Board sends the nurse a notification.
When a nurse hires me at the outset, I monitor the status of the complaint. That is, I send the investigator my letter of representation. The investigator will update me if a complaint is received, and whether it is opened or closed. On the other hand, some nurses prefer I not check status. Don’t draw attention to yourself. There is merit in both approaches. It just depends on your tolerance. Some of my clients need to know, some don’t want to know.
Once a complaint file is opened, the investigator requests information from the employer. After all employer information is received, the investigator sends the nurse a notice of complaint. As part of that investigation, the investigator asks the nurse for a statement. The nurse has 30 days comply.
- Some letters request a written, notarized statement from the nurse;
- Others request an oral statement.
Either way, do not make your statement without a lawyer’s advice. Why is it important? Because, you may be:
- stating more than you need. More words increase the chance for speaking inconsistently;
- contradicting your employer’s statement; Many employers ask for your written version of events. If you don’t have a copy of your statement, you may tell a different version. This looks suspicious;
- revealing additional misconduct that was not previously disclosed to the Board. You must look closely at the question before you answer; Some nurses will not remember events that happened months ago. Employers do not always state the reasons for termination.
- admitting criminal conduct. Don’t forget the Board investigation can be shared with a detective.
Normally, the nurse’s statement is the final piece of the investigation. Once the investigation is completed, it is reviewed by the Board and its attorneys. The Board then determines the nurse’s punishment. This ranges from a public reprimand, probation, or revocation of the license.
Timeline From Termination to Complaint:
Even though there is mandatory reporting of termination within 15 days, there is no enforcement mechanism on employers. Many employer complaints arrive at the Board in months. Some may even arrive after years of the occurrence. Generally, big hospitals are good at complying within 15 days. Smaller employers may lack the personnel to act promptly.
An employer must report all terminations of a nurse for cause. When the Board asks the nurse for evidence, I strongly advise retaining a nurse defense lawyer. Do this before you contact the Board. The Board of Nursing has its own lawyers. Don’t go into battle without your own.