1. Brooke, Penny Simpson APRN, MS, JD

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I work at a pediatric hospital. Recently, a nurse in the adolescent unit resigned and I was told that because I'm a man I'd have to replace him. Hospital policy calls for having at least one male and one female nurse on every shift available to help teens of the same sex with personal issues. I wouldn't mind changing to the unit, but I'd also have to change my shift. Isn't the hospital practicing sex discrimination?-E.W., CALIF.


Hospital policies can reflect preferences for staff members of one sex if they're based on rational reasons and designed in the best interest of patients. If the hospital were showing preference without such justification, you might rightly consider it discrimination. But your employer seems to have a valid reason for needing both male and female nurses in the adolescent unit.


If the shift change is the real sticking point for you, you should check your employment agreement because nurses can't be forced to work in roles they haven't contracted for. If the hospital is violating your agreement, then you must decide whether to continue working there. In many cases, the employee handbook is the closest thing to a description of the hospital's expectations. If nothing about shift changes is mentioned, you need to make the change.