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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Nurses’ Jobs Aren’t Physically Demanding? Really?

Published December 10, 2010 1:21 PM by Stacey Miller
The City of New York has classified more than 300 jobs under the category "physically taxing." Professions on this list include assistant locksmiths and gardeners, but not nurses or midwives, according to the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA).

Working in a position that is classified as "physically taxing" allows city employees to retire with a full pension at age 50, with 25 years of service. This excludes nurses "despite the fact nurses lift the equivalent of 1.8 tons per shift, spend most of their shift on their feet, and are routinely exposed to both hazardous and stressful conditions," states the NYSNA.

As the association sees it excluding nurses (91 percent of whom are women, according to the Department of Labor Statistics) is comparable to putting a "boys only" label on physically demanding jobs, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agrees.

A gender discrimination case the NYSNA filed against the City in 2008 has moved to the U. S. Department of Justice for a possible lawsuit. The EEOC determined there is reason to believe the City's refusal to designate the jobs of nurses and midwives as physically taxing constitutes illegal discrimination against women on the basis of gender in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit focuses on whether this is an equal rights issue, but the underlying question is why the City won't recognize nurses as working in physically demanding jobs. Their bodies are pushed to the extreme. Their safety is at times compromised. Yet, they're denied a privilege afforded to assistant locksmiths?

It's time for the City of New York to wake up on the reality of what nurses do.

5 comments

What is the latest on this important topic

Jean Norero, E r - Rn, Woodhull March 30, 2015 11:22 AM
Bk NY

2.   without retsdenis there won't be someone to cover while the doctor is busy, without a Nurse there won't be someone to administer medication and lend a warm hand, and the list goes on But most of all without you and I there won't be these positions to fill and without patients there won't be a need for these position. So therefore acknowledge and appreciate everthing and everyone no matter how big or how small I always say everyone is very important and the jobs they do.

Juliane Juliane, mIDyjczb - lTAdssjmGxamENwI, rvWZyLRIfXAleenjAoQ May 3, 2012 3:57 AM
HcLjpvdQLIaxa DE

What does the City of New York consider "physically taxing?" The field of nursing is a demanding experience requiring constant standing, lifting, bending, and use of the hands; not to mention the mental strain of critical thinking that can be physchologically exhausting. Do we have to work as a slave or a coal miner in order to qualify for early retirement with full pension. Do they think that we sit at a desk watching the time go by. It is totally unfair to those nurses who provided 25/+ services of physical and mental labor, even to those whose health has been negatively affected from their work. The City of New York needs to reconsider their definition of what's "physically taxing" and also consider what nurses do in their field.

Dawn Huggins, Geriatric - RN, Nursing home January 6, 2011 2:31 AM
Uniondale NY

Working as a nurse leaves you with a bad back from the lifting, problems with your knees from all the bending  and varicose vein from all the standing.  If you survive to enjoy retirement it's a miracle.  Anything to alleviate the mental stress of working until we drop dead would be a plus.  Maybe we can start by considering nursing as "physically taxing".%0d%0a

Crystal Capers, RN January 1, 2011 3:21 PM
Baldwin NY

Wow, nurses have extremely physical jobs, I can't believe the city of New York, has overlooked what to me is the most physical job I have ever done. My husband works for the City of Chicago as a laboror, and doesn't lift, pull, push, or walk one-eighth the amount I do on an normal eight hour shift. He too is afforded an early retirement option with a big fat pension.  In addition to being physically wiped, the mental and emotional strain is abundant as well. Time to re-evaluate what is physically taxing and what is not!

Elayne, Surgery - RN, Advocate Medical Center December 13, 2010 9:54 PM
chicago IL

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