Should I sign a disciplinary warning if I feel it is unfair?

By | 2022-02-15T17:53:23-05:00 February 13th, 2012|0 Comments


Dear Nancy,

I work as a nurse practitioner in a private office. I received a final disciplinary warning notice for not taking patients according to their waiting time. My supervisor told me a patient had complained, and she suspected it was me because I took two charts instead of one to save time on a high-workload day. How can I manage this situation? Should warnings be documented in writing? Should I sign the disciplinary warning notice if I disagree with the complaint?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Angie,

It is a little unclear what the patient’s complaint was, but some comments can be made about disciplinary warnings. First and foremost, any discipline against an employee should be handled pursuant to the disciplinary policy of the office. It always is best to have such a policy. If the office does not have one, it is safe to say “anything goes,” and there is no need to issue a verbal warning first, then a written one or follow any other mandates.

Disciplinary policies also usually govern “verbal warnings.” Sometimes, a facility will require that even verbal warnings be put in writing on an appropriate form. Other policies do not require a verbal warning be in writing, but when the employee is given a subsequent written warning, the date and reason for the previous verbal warning must be documented on the form.

In any case, when one is required to sign a written warning (most employment policies do require this), the employee can sign it, but add a written statement that he or she is signing it only and does not agree with the warning given and the information contained therein. Otherwise, signing can be argued as signifying agreement.

If you think your discipline was unfair or unfounded, you can consult with a nurse attorney or attorney who works with employees for specific advice as to how to handle this written warning. Take the employee handbook with the policy in it with you, or take a copy of the policy itself.



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