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Seasoned with Sage
Cavorting Coworkers

I knew a male and a female nurse who labored alongside one another, day-in and day-out.  They learned the sounds of each other's voices and nonverbal cues, they laughed and had fun together, and they even shared some tragic moments that strengthened their bond.

Their relationship was close, and rightly so.

At work, the emotional bond between this man and this woman grew.  Before long, it appeared closer than the bond each had with their respective spouses.  Then it happened.

One wanted to take the relationship to the next level, a physical level-but the other did not.

The nurse who refused the relationship divulged everything to the spouse at home. The guilt was enormous, and animosity between the two at work grew.  Soon management entered the picture.

Even though nothing had occurred at work that would have been perceived as inappropriate, management asked the nurse who refused the overture to move on from their position.  All the while the other nurse involved kept their position.

How is this right?

If both had engaged in something physical at work, obviously they would have both been fired.   But their work was never a factor. Why was one nurse-who seems to have made the right choice-forced out while the other was allowed to remain?

Ethically, what do you think should have been done in this case?  Has your unit faced a similar scenario? How did your management respond? How did you respond?

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4 Responses to “Cavorting Coworkers”

  1. Nurse Kirsten Says:

    I am sorry! I work with all women. I have seen this happen before between a MD and an RN and the RN was asked to leave when they were busted and the MD still practices at that hospital today! Sounds like a law suit waiting to happen to me because both should have been asked to leave, not just one of them if it was that big of an issue. Hope things work out for them!

  2. Gracie Says:

    I, myself, met my now Husband on the unit that we both worked. I was in the midst of a divorce and he was already divorced. We agreed to keep our relationship a secret from our coworkers and were able to for over a year. When we finally became public, people were very happy for us. We worked well together and were able to maintain our professionlism. I, on my own, decided to look for employment elsewhere to avoid percieved “nepotism”, just in case. On the flip side; one of the nurses I worked with was, at the same time, becoming involved with one of the Doctors that we worked with. In our unit, we worked side by side with the Doctors the whole shift. This relationship became public knowledge quickly and both were married to other people. It became uncomfortable for those of us that knew because the RN was quite jealous and verbalized that. There was tension whenever one worked with the 2 of them or was friendly with the Doctor. The relationship ended after 3-4 years and the Doctor was the one that remained on the unit. The nurse was not asked to leave, she just found it very uncomfortable and sad to work alongside the Doctor. Most were relieved when the affair ended. The atmosphere in the workplace became less tense and more easy. So, two different scenarios of workplace romance. One discrete and one quite public. One with a happy ending and one not. One did not affect the workplace and one affected the atmosphere profoundly.

  3. Jake Says:

    I think its ok to have a relationship with a co-worker as long as it doesn’t interfere with the care of your patients or cut into your professionalism. I work at the same hospital with my wife. We work different units…but I fell you could work the same unit…most days hahaha

  4. Mr Ian Says:

    This is not a nursing – nor even s health care setting – exclusive matter, obviously.
    And in terms of management – the morals and ethics of behaviour are irrelevant to the manner of management applied.
    I dare say there was a lot more to know about this scenario than simply what is told.
    Did the offended nurse make complaint?
    Did management make offer of compromise?
    Did they say “Well it’s not effecting your work unless you want it to” and gave them an option to continue on.
    Did the offended nurse get caught up in some self-righteous attitude about it all and put too much personal emotion into their concerns rather than professional ones?

    And the nurse with advances? Equally so, how they behaved during and after should impact management decision – again, not simply a decision based on a judgment of morals.
    We can’t have it all ways – if we want to be treated equitably and fairly then we must behave responsibly and rationally.

    Now of course, these are questions I have no answers to. But they are pertinent to the question of “was it right or wrong?” and making a snap decision based on one limited detail of the situation would be irrational and irresponsible.

    Prima facae? I think they should have both just carried on working but in the emotion of the circumstance, without apportioning blame, that might not have been possible.

    But if it came down to 6 of one and half dozen of the other – then the managers have a responsiblity to the hospital; the patients and the staff.
    If Nurse Advancing was senior and more experienced and a “better” nurse – then the management are in teir rights to determine what is best for their needs. They are employers; not relationship guidance counsellors or moral judges.

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