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I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 5 years at my hospital. The hospital has done a lot of expanding in the pediatric area including bring in specialty doctors to the area. The labor and delivery unit started up program for transport of high risk OB patients last year and had several volunteers all of which dropped the program due to various reasons. They recently requested volunteers to begin the program again. The majority of our OB nurses in our unit are not interested in being involved in this type of program due to the fact we all have small children and are not wanting to accept the risk flight nursing involves. We live in a very mountainous setting with very unsettled weather. Yesterday our manager sent us an email that mandates that every nurse has to be involved in the flight program. The only compensation they are offering is a one time $32 hazard pay. I am pretty positive that even if they were offering an extra $32/hr we wouldn't be interested in it.
Nowhere in our employment contract does it state this was to be part of our assignments. In the email it is mentioned this is now being added to our job description. Is this legal for them to force us to participate?

  • Your boss can certainly "force" you to do certain job-related duties, but whether this specific duty would fall within that is probably a question for a lawyer. – Dukeling Mar 10 '18 at 15:09
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    Depending on your legislation, there might be phyiscal and/or educational requirements for such roles that could make you participating illegal. Research this direction a bit to find an excuse. – deviantfan Mar 10 '18 at 15:10
  • Why do you think they cannot do this? – Masked Man Mar 10 '18 at 15:34
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    The answer to this will vary by location. Without a location tag, and if in the US the State too, any answer here is pure speculation. Most likely though they can expand you job responsibilities. – Mister Positive Mar 10 '18 at 16:05
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The answers will depend in part on two items that are not in your description: are you in the U.S.? and Are you unionized? The following comments assume that you are in the U.S. and that you are not represented for collective bargaining purposes by a labor organization.

Nowhere in our employment contract does it state this was to be part of our assignments.

If the contract includes an assignment description, then that governs. But look also at (a) whether the assignment (or the job description if it is attached as a reference in the contract) can be changed from time to time by your employer; and also at whether there is a duration to the contract.

If employer has the right to change the work assignment, then you're somewhat stuck, although depending on state law you might be entitled to leave and then receive unemployment benefits if the change in job is considered to be substantial. If there is no duration to the contract, then depending on state law the contract is essentially terminable at will, which means that your employer is saying: that job is over, but this is a new job we are offering you. So it's very dependent on the text of the contract and your state's law.

In the email it is mentioned this is now being added to our job description.

See notes above. Employer is probably allowed to do that, but (a) whether they can do it to you, and (b) whether it is superseded by your employment contract depend on the precise text of your employment contract.

You should consult an employment lawyer in the closest big city. You shouldn't have to go there physically to create a relationship with a lawyer.

  • And, in many employment contracts, there are usually phrases like "subject to change", "or at management's discretion", or "And other roles and duties as needed" +1 Good at pointing this out! – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Mar 10 '18 at 16:12

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