By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
This week, media outlets replayed a 911 tape from Bakersfield, California featuring an operator begging a staff nurse at an independent living center to give CPR to a resident having a heart attack. In her 7-minute conversation with the nurse on duty, the 911 operator asks the nurse repeatedly to start CPR and when it is clear the nurse is not going to do so, she starts asking for the nurse to give the phone to anyone — a stranger, another resident, anyone — to start CPR.
Ultimately she refused.
The 87-year-old resident died. How is this possible? Managers at this independent living facility have a standing policy not to allow staff to give CPR. Yes, this is a housing facility for seniors and this is a nurse calling 911. If it were not for the tapes, it would be hard to believe.
Do you work for someone who undermines your better judgment? Does your boss ask you to look the other way and not respond to an obvious problem? Have they written rules that make it hard to do your job?
If you haven’t looked carefully at your company’s employee handbook, you may be surprised to learn what you can or cannot do while at your workplace.
In a society more and more concerned about liability, your employer can have a range of policies that keep you from using common sense. In the nation’s service sector, where the majority of Latinos are employed (32.2%), this is particularly a problem.
Working in this kind of environment can not only be demoralizing, it can also undermine your career because it stifles your thinking. It can rob you of your motivation and the ability to exercise creativity or make you second guess your sensibilities about the work you know how to do.
When you find yourself employed in this kind of workplace, you may need to quickly assess if anyone within the organization is willing to hear your concerns. Your boss may not be approachable or they may simply tell you that they don’t agree with the rules but need to live by them, too.
If you cannot find anyone within the company, you may find help outside of the workplace — but beware. Once you take your concerns to an external authority, you may need to take measures to protect your job or be willing to leave that job.
You may find the first place to start is a local community center or nonprofit that provides free legal advice. Another possibility is to take your concerns to an association of employees working in your line of business or if you have one — your union.
Regardless of the situation, don’t let an employer rob you of your better judgment or your dignity. And never let an employer ask you to do something illegal.
The last thing you would want for your career is to be caught up in a scandal or find yourself in a lawsuit. A company can change its name, restructure, and move on from a scandal. Your personal involvement in fraud or illegal actions becomes part of your personal reputation.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™ on Facebook or on Twitter @SavvyLatinaInfo.