Nurses’ Jobs Aren’t Physically Demanding? Really?
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.