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Federal Appeals Court Finds Charge Nurses Are Supervisors

By Roger P. Gilson Jr.
  • June 25, 2000

Charge nurses at a suburban New York nursing home are supervisors and should not have been included in two separate bargaining units sought by a union. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (New York) ruled that the charge nurses met the statutory definition of supervisor because they had the authority to responsibly direct other employees "in the interest of the employer."

The facility's nurse managers handle the nursing department administration and report to the assistant director of nursing. The charge nurses consist of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, and they report to the nurse managers. One charge nurse and one regular nurse are assigned to each floor for each shift; the charge nurses are responsible for providing necessary patient care, assisting the certified nurse assistants, and monitoring overall care.

In reviewing the supervisory duties of the charge nurses, the appeals court found that they responsibly directed certified nurse assistants and exercised independent judgment in doing so. Indeed, charge nurses had been disciplined for failing to direct staff properly in their patient care duties, and the court reasoned that accountability for another's failure to act established the requisite supervisory authority. Accordingly, the charge nurses were excluded from the bargaining units, relieving the employer from the duty to bargain with one of those units. [Schnurmacher Nursing Home v. NLRB, No. 98-4388 (2nd Cir., 2000).]

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