Friday, April 16, 2010

Good News.

I thought I would post a positive update on my life, since most of them have been dark and gloomy up until now. Lol.

So I got fired from my job, and I remember blogging about that, but I don't know if I also mentioned somewhere that I had been denied unemployment benefits as well. My former employer's reason for denying benefits is because I was "aware of their requirements" and I "failed to follow instructions." Bullshit. Something in me won't let it go without a fight and I immediately go to the Department of Labor office and appeal the decision. This leads to another long period of waiting for the Appeals office to schedule a hearing.

I finally get my notice in the mail stating that a telephone hearing will be held on April 9th. I gather all the evidence I have for my case, including the form I have from the clinic stating that they were closed the morning I went in, phone records showing that I called the clinic, the whole nine yards. Then I anxiously wait for my hearing date, wondering what will be said to make it seem as if I was the insubordinate or negligent employee during the incident. I speak with a lawyer a couple days before my hearing to get her opinion on what to expect. When she finds out the hearing will be via telephone and not in person, she tells me this is a bad sign. Uh-oh. According to her, an in-person hearing makes it harder for the former employer to show up and argue their case. That thought had crossed my mind but I didn't think it would have a huge effect. Damn. It's too late for me to request an in-person hearing so I force myself to think happy thoughts and go through with the hearing as scheduled.

The 9th comes around and I get a phone call from the hearing officer. She puts me on hold while she contacts someone to represent my former employer. Moments later she gets back on the line and introduces the person who will be representing the opposite side as Ms. Schwartz, the payroll coordinator. My first thought is, "Who the hell is Ms. Schwartz?" I had never heard of or seen this woman the whole seven months I was on my job, and I'm confused about why she has been chosen to represent the company in an unemployment appeal hearing. I thought my supervisor would have been involved, or the bitch from Human Resources that suspended me. I figure this is probably just some trick they have up their sleeves and brace myself. The hearing officer swears us in, then begins to question Ms. Schwartz on my termination. From her answers, I can tell this woman is simply reading from whatever is in my personnel file. She states that the manager of the department I worked in terminated me, when I know that it was actually my supervisor. She reads the company drug policy that states that any employee found under the influence while on duty will be terminated immediately. Okay. And what does that have to do with me? Then she puts us on hold while she looks for the portion of the company policy that discusses an employee's refusal to submit to a drug screening. She gets back on the line and reads: "Any employee that refuses to submit to drug testing will immediately be terminated." And again.....what does that have to do with me?

She finishes her testimony, then it's my turn. The hearing officer questions me on why I did not take my drug test, and I tell her the clinic was closed when I went in for testing. I request that the form I obtained from the clinic be submitted as evidence. I attempt to submit my phone records as evidence as well, but the hearing officer says I don't need them since Ms. Schwartz has not objected to the fact that I called the clinic that morning. Then we are given a chance to make a final statement. Ms. Schwartz explains that this is her first time dealing with an unemployment appeal, that she doesn't know much about my case, and she thinks it would be better if my supervisor or someone from the Human Resources department gets on the phone. The hearing officer stops her, saying, "Ms. Schwartz, I asked you at the beginning of the hearing if you had any witnesses and you said no. We are now closing the hearing." I can't help but smile a little when she says that. And that's the end of it.

Now I get to wait some more to find out the officer's decision. Talk about nerve-wracking. In my opinion, I feel that my former job did nothing to prove that I did anything wrong in the situation, especially since they put some random-ass person on the phone to represent them. But I can't get too excited, because I have gotten my hopes up before thinking I would come across some logical people throughout this whole ordeal, and I have been sadly mistaken. I call the Appeals office on Tuesday to find out if they have made a decision, and I am told they haven't. The woman on the phone says they usually make a decision the day of the hearing. Oh Lord. What does that mean?

Fast-forward to this afternoon. I am in my room getting depressed after looking at my bank account, then I get up to use the bathroom. My roommate has left my mail outside my door, and there is a letter from the Georgia Department of Labor. My heart starts racing and I rip it open. I skim through it, looking for a "yay or nay" statement. Then I see it. "The employer has failed to show that the claimant refused to take a drug test....Benefits are allowed."

I have to read it a couple more times to make sure I'm reading it right. Then I toss the letter down and do a corny-ass little two-step. Then I call my mom and give her the good news. I don't think I can even explain in words how much of a relief this is, as well as validation that I wasn't wrong in the situation at my job. After too many losses to mention, I finally feel like I got a victory. Hopefully this is one of many to come.


Anonymous said...

CONGRATS!! Forget unemployment benefits, with all the evidence you have, you could probably bring a lawsuit against them for wrongful termination....just a thought.

UglyCleanBroke87 said...

Thank you! And I did try to go the wrongful termination route, but the EEOC says it's not wrongful unless you were discriminated against based on race, sex, etc. In other words, I would only have a case if a white person at my job "refused" to take a drug test and wasn't terminated. I still kinda think I have a case, but I don't have the time or money for a good lawyer. If you know of any though, let me know. ;)