Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bully or Bullied?

Sorry I have not written for a long time.

I had a bad experience at work.

There have been many, yes. But this one has altered my interactions with most people I know.

Another nurse is married to someone on an executive board of the hospital. She is also a union representative. I think this is a conflict of interest, but my issues with the nurses’ union run long and deep and have established that my opinion is irrelevant.

Thank Goodness two people told me what was going on the day before I was called in by my supervisor’s supervisor and a head honcho. I do have some allies.

I prepared my evidence and memorized the pertinent hospital policies.

The nurse accused me of bullying her on social media.

We have never had any contact in person or in cyberspace. I only knew of her because her picture is in emails from the union and on the website. I never saw her at a union meeting.

I asserted that any evidence she had of my bullying had to be a fake account she created in my name.

The hospital said it was definitely my account, which they and internal affairs had reviewed.

“You took this to internal affairs?” I said.

“We take bullying very seriously,” they answered.

“Since when?” I said. I could not help it. I complained for years about other nurses bullying me and I was basically told that this is the culture and I could endure it or quit.

“Well,” they hesitated, “we were not sure if this was bullying, so we referred the matter. And good news! You were cleared of any wrongdoing.”

“You only went to internal affairs because this nurse is married to a very important person. You ignored my valid complaints from day one,” I said.

“We take allegations of bullying seriously,” they repeated.

“So what was the evidence against me?” I asked. “I post pictures of meals I sometimes cook, and flowers I see. It’s mundane.”

“Yes, that is what upset the other nurse,” they explained. “She thought you were sending her the message that you are a better cook and gardener than she is. She felt that your pictures were directed at her and this is bullying.”

I was speechless for a moment. “Are you kidding me?”

They did not answer.

“This was her evidence? Food and flowers? I was not the cook in most of those pictures. I don’t even have a garden. I can’t keep a house plant alive. Those are other people’s gardens. People are locked up here because of such delusions.”

“It’s based on feelings,” they tried.

“No. Those feelings have to have a logical basis,” I interjected.

“Maybe you are right,” the supervisor said. “We will put out a memo that bullying is not acceptable. We will require you to attend a course on bullying, during the normal work day of course.”

“Absolutely not,” I replied. “She is bullying me with this baseless accusation. Her conduct needs to be reviewed by internal affairs, just as mine was.”

“That will not happen and you know it,” they replied.

“So let’s stop pretending that I did anything actionable to this nurse,” I answered.

“Maybe so, but we still have the HIPAA issue,” they continued.


“The nurse said that you were posting pictures of patients on social media. Although they were not posted by you, you do appear in pictures with elderly people and sometimes younger people using canes or wheelchairs,” the supervisor explained carefully, as if I would have to agree with this accusation.

“I have elderly family members. When we get together, we take pictures of the event, just like most people in this country. They are not my patients. They are my friends and family. Do you recognize them as patients at this hospital?” I asked.

“No,” the supervisor said. “The nurse said that they were taken at the nursing home where you work.”

“Which nursing home?” I asked.

“She did not say,” they replied.

“I do not work at a nursing home,” I answered.

They looked at each other for a moment. The supervisor said, “I guess the HIPAA claim has no basis either.”

The head honcho said, “I will say, from looking at your FaceBook, you do not identify yourself as a nurse. You list ‘Happy Wife and Mother’ as your occupation. You do not state anywhere that you work here. No pictures look like they were taken inside this building. There are no pictures of you with coworkers. I saw no connection to this hospital or anyone associated with this hospital in anything you posted.”

I replied, “That is because I comply with hospital policy, unlike my accuser.”

“What do you mean?” they asked.

“My accuser posts that she is a nurse employed here. She publicly posts photos every time she works. She commends coworkers. Patients appear in the background. Papers can sometimes be read on the desk. It’s like she running a public relations campaign from the floor,” I explained.

They brushed this aside. “We would not know about her FaceBook page because we do not have FaceBook. It’s dangerous!”

“So you deleted your accounts after you looked at my FaceBook page?” I asked.

They did not follow.

“You did not have FaceBook accounts when you viewed mine for wrongdoing, but now you cannot view hers for wrongdoing?” I queried.


“I see. Well I guess I have to go to internal affairs myself with the screenshots of the two of you in her photos with patients and charts fully visible.”

This shocked them. They had no idea. This woman was stupid enough to not clean up her own social media accounts before attacking me. She also did not comply with the hospital policy, which prohibits employees from publicly revealing that they are employed at the hospital. Employees are not permitted to post anything to social media while working, even if the post has nothing to do with work. Employees cannot commend other employees because this might be inferred as the hospital’s commendation.

They were not sure to believe me or not. “What should I tell your union?” the head honcho asked.

“My union? I did not notify them that I was charged with bullying and HIPAA violations,” I said.

“You union brought these charges against you,” head honcho explained. “I meet with them later and they will want to know the outcome.”

“My own union, once again, my worst enemy.”

“That’s what I told them,” head honcho said. “You are going after one of your own nurses.”

“Please tell them that I am vindicated. Their attempt to take me down was, once again, sloppy. Please add that I have collected damning information on all of them for years and will use it, just as I did against this nurse who falsely accused me. Enjoy viewing her FaceBook page with the pictures of you in this hospital, violating HIPAA and hospital policy.”

I left.

Later I checked the nurse’s social media accounts. She took down most her photos, leaving only vacation pictures. Her place of employment was changed to “Eye surgical center.”

I deleted most of my FaceBook pictures too. They were not wrong. I just want to make someone work harder to get information on me. I placed restrictions on who could see the remaining pictures and posts.

My immediate supervisor knew. She thought I was wrong and doomed. This upset me that she told me nothing. She was impressed that I turned the tables on my accuser. But this has hurt my relationship with her. I cannot trust her.

I cannot trust anyone.

From now on I must make sure to keep everyone at arm’s length. Simple chit chat if required. The slightest remark can be used against me.

My other thought is to become bolder, not meeker, and say and do whatever I want.