Case of Nurse Fired After Mouthing Off to Police Officer Back in Court
Is there no separation between one's personal and professional life? It seems that society holds people to the standards of their profession at all times. Perhaps it is that we believe these people are role models and should maintain the same characteristics even when not working or not in the workplace. For example, it seems worse when a teacher gets a DUI or a politician is unfaithful, because we expect those people to be held to certain standards of behavior at all times. Do people have similar expectations of nurses? Should they?
The question comes to play as many people are weighing in on the 2008 case of Miriam Leverington, a cardiac nurse in Colorado Springs, CO, who mouthed off to an officer who was giving her a traffic ticket.
According to The Denver Post, Leverington reportedly said to the officer, "I hope you are not ever my patient." The police officer, Duaine Peters, issued a complaint to the city-run hospital, Memorial Health System, where Leverington worked. The hospital apparently agreed that her comment amounted to a threat and she was fired.
Leverington is countersuing Peters and the city of Colorado Springs saying she was exercising free speech when she made the comment. She lost her case at the U.S. District Court after a judge found her statement was not protected speech. The case is now being decided by a federal appeals court, reported The New York Times.
The Denver Post reports the court might issue a ruling within several weeks.
Was the hospital right to fire Leverington? Did the nurse have the "right" to say what she did and expect to keep her job? Should nurses and other professionals be held to standards of their profession even when they are not working or representing their employer?