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View Diary: Losing my job in the worst possible way. (168 comments)

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  •  At this stage... (27+ / 0-)

    ...there's no proof of actual discrimination.  There is quite a bit of proof of animus, however, which would form the basis of a wrongful termination lawsuit.

    They aren't even following any of their own rules and guidelines, and there's not a shred of written evidence against me.

    I'll see what the lawyer says about the EEOC.  If he suggests I contact them, I'll be first to make the phone call.

    •  You hit upon a KEY point: (43+ / 0-)

      My heart truly goes out to you, I am also drifting along in this economy without meaningful work - - but I have a law degree and have represented people in cases like this.

      Know their rules better than them. If you know ONE thing, this is the one. Read everything you have ever received from HR - original "Employee Handbooks" usually outline all these procedures and are the closest things to employment contracts out there. I cannot stress enough how important it is to document every. single. time. they have violated their own procedural or substantive rules.

      Don't assume that your attorney will have the time to read all their rules.

      List each and every rule violation that they make - even ones that have NOTHING to do with you or your case, it may come to matter, they certainly seem to be willing to throw the kitchen sink at you - make them think about how hard they want to do it.

      If you need to buy time (your attorney may not have done many of these types of cases) request records of how these cases have been handled by their HR department before (they may deny those records to you, that is ok, make the request anyway), try to make THEM nervous about how hard they are willing to fight.

      Keep it up, I really feel for you. PM me if you want to talk about it further, good luck.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick. Message to Repug Fundies: "DO you really wonder "what would Jesus do?" I didn't think so.

      by 4CasandChlo on Wed May 08, 2013 at 05:52:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I need to buy time, but... (17+ / 0-)

        ...they are putting the screws to me with that unpaid suspension.

        I think you've got a very good suggestion there, though I do not have an employee handbook.  That's got to be one of the first things that I need to see, even if I have to subpoena it.  It's my actual boss that told me they were violating all their own guidelines.  He apparently knows more then I do, and that's a bad thing.

        •  You need to request it. (35+ / 0-)

          You need to request:

          1. Employee handbook
          2. Grievance procedure rulebook (if they have one)
          3. "Witness List" of the School-Employer against you and what they are expected to say
          4. Right to see the files (absent names) of the last 10 employees who have had similar accusations as you face and how they worked out.

          They may not give you any of them - there is no "law" that says that they must, there is no "law" that says that they have to have a hearing at all, they do so to have some sort of regular procedure for these things. Just be sure that you request each of these and if they say "no" request that they state a reason in writing - and then offer to "help" them get around their excuse (i.e. if they say its "private"  to the other people, ask that they black out names etc.).

          The key is to make them realize that you are putting them on a hearing also, make them realize that they have something to "lose" too. Don't be rude, just very official, everything in writing, keep up the pressure on them.

          If they start (or continue) to violate their own procedural rules, THAT is when an attorney WILL take your case on contingent fee b/c if you can show on paper that they could not even be bothered to follow their own rule book, juries are far less to believe them for their "excuse" to fire you - - sometimes it can be bad enough it never gets to a jury and a judgment by law or settlement happens.

          Oh, and don't voluntarily offer up anything about knowing all this was temporary to begin with - don't lie - but don't bring that up unless directly asked.

          I get so angry when I hear about these, good luck and keep it up.

          Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick. Message to Repug Fundies: "DO you really wonder "what would Jesus do?" I didn't think so.

          by 4CasandChlo on Wed May 08, 2013 at 06:26:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, the temp part was known long ago. (12+ / 0-)

            I'll follow your advice and not actually say it was temporary, but HR, the administrative staff of my new department, and pretty much all the principals knew I was due to be laid off in 5 months.  Like most research staff, the university itself wasn't paying my salary; a grant from the federal government was, and when it ran out, so did my job, so it was a matter of record before I was ever hired how many months the grant could support me.

            Which makes the Uni's direct interference in my employment all the more egregious, since they weren't paying a penny of my salary.  Making them pay direct out of their own coffers would be quite sweet, even if it was just my salary and no other settlement.

            •  I understand. (12+ / 0-)

              Sounds to me like you have a pretty good attitude about it.

              Last thing - - try to get them to state, in one sentence, what it was they think you did that warrants them firing you.

              You said that it was some kind of altercation with a staff member on behalf of your former boss - - get them to state  explicitly what they think you did wrong on the record. Once they "state" that - request records of instances someone was fired for similar "accusations" and see if your matches up.  Request records of people who received a "warning" or no action etc. Try to establish that there is something beyond the "facts" that is motivating them and the best way to do that is to look at what you are accused of doing lined up next to what others did.

              Good luck.

              Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick. Message to Repug Fundies: "DO you really wonder "what would Jesus do?" I didn't think so.

              by 4CasandChlo on Wed May 08, 2013 at 08:20:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's good advice 4CasandChio, (11+ / 0-)

                ArchTeryx ~

                I would add to 4CasandChico excellent advice, a request to see if any counselling had been done by the Boss or HR with anyone about this unknown rule infraction. And any counselling that was done with you about it or about anything else that they may have tacked onto as an afterthought.

                If no one spoke to you at the time of the incident, going back to that now is pretty slim...and you should perhaps have been given a warning at the time.

                The way most firings work, unless you do something heinous, you get an "Unofficial" or "Verbal" warning... next goof up, you get a "Written Warning"....and the documentation requirements for HR CYA is pretty extensive...This just sudden firing is way out of the norm.

                Also, request any records or notes your bosses might have about you. They may be unofficial but I will almost guarantee you a file on you exists somewhere other than in HR.

                "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

                by SaraBeth on Thu May 09, 2013 at 04:06:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Good idea about the notes. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ER Doc

                  Unfortunately, about the incident - the tiff with the administrative assistant and subsequent ejection from my host lab - there was nothing written or verbal given, other then the original verbal confrontation and the apology I tended a couple hours later.  Not a thing.  The only comment from my ex-boss was that I'd have to cease my experimental work and move to an office and away from the bench quickly.  Which I did.

              •  I did get one statement, from Epi. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ER Doc, sturunner

                They are concerned because I was "kicked out" of my previous lab, and that I could no longer do the job I was hired to do.  I asked why that warranted a disciplinary hearing and suspension in lieu of a straight RIF.  They refused to say, and continue to refuse to provide any documentation - another reason I decided to lawyer up.  Right now, I have very few answers as to what the hell is going on from their end.

        •  Is this a state university? (12+ / 0-)

          If so, it may be subject to the state's open records act and those records may be available to you as a member of the public.  Private information can be redacted.

          •  It's quasi-state. (9+ / 0-)

            They do receive quite a bit of state funding, but also are privately funded as well.  At the risk of giving away too much, they live in a weird public-private space, and think themselves Ivy League (but they are most definitely not).

            •  You said they're trying to fire you to deny you (6+ / 0-)

              unemployment? In PA even fired employees can collect unemployment -- it's on the employer to prove just cause and that process drags on for quite a while. My husband went through this for more than a year with a former employee who was caught on video stealing from a customer. Even though the employee was arrested he filed for unemployment claiming, falsely, that he was let go because there wasn't enough work. The whole process, through appeals, denials, re-appeals, and two hearings took more than a year, and the entire time the ex-employee collected unemployment. Even though the ex-employee eventually lost I'm not sure the state will bother to go after him for the money he received for his fraudulent claim.

              •  Generally, Unemployment investigators err... (0+ / 0-)

                ...on the side of the unemployed where there are any questions.

                To the OP, collect any emails or documentation you have regarding anything along the lines of job performance.  If your UI is denied, you can usually appeal.  If the employer cannot show that you were given an opportunity to correct whatever behavior it is they allege, the claim will usually be granted.  

            •  Don't be misled. They're still a state institution (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Angie in WA State, chimpy, sturunner

              subject to investigation and disclosure.

              Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

              by peregrine kate on Thu May 09, 2013 at 06:49:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps you should request your (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rocketito, Angie in WA State, ER Doc

          employee records. Are you evaluated each year?  You need copies of those, especially if they were satisfactory and got you a pay increase....

          And if it is their policy that you be evaluated each year and yet haven't done so...there is another policy breach.

          I used to write policies...and believe me, if it is written down anywhere, it had better be followed.

          "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

          by SaraBeth on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:51:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very good idea. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc

            They weren't just satisfactory.  When I moved from one boss and department to the next, I was given a pay raise AND a promotion to the next level of my title.  But I also don't have the exact evaluation, either for the six month or one year period.

            •  It's on file with HR (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ER Doc

              guaranteed. Get it.

              Also, lesson learned-keep copies of these things. You never know when they might come in handy!

              Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

              by hopeful on Thu May 09, 2013 at 10:43:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Search the university's web site (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SaraBeth, BB10, 4CasandChlo, ER Doc

          Admin procedures are usually posted online at Universities.

          If you have a faculty senate, they probably have a website with policies posted.  Look under HR, the Provost, etc.

          Having policies and not following them is worse than not having a policy at all.

          Document EVERY violation.

      •  the more you can help your attorney (6+ / 0-)

        the less billable hours they may incur...

        My heroes have the heart to live the life I want to live.

        by JLFinch on Wed May 08, 2013 at 06:37:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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