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jspchief
01-03-2006, 04:49 PM
Don't know if any business owners or HR people can help, but I'll throw it out there.

Around a month ago, my SiL was told that she'd be getting demoted with a pay cut in '06, or she could resign. She needs the job, so obviously agreed to the demotion.

Today, she came to work and was told she was fired, reasoning being poor work performance. They asked her to sign a letter of resignation, and told if she didn't, they would not be a good reference if a prospective employer inquired. They also told her they would fight her if she claimed unemployment. She signed the resignation.

Here's the backstory that I know. She's worked at this place for 11 years, working her way up into management. She's a very responsible single mother of three, that highly valued her job. I don't know what kind of employee she is, but I doubt she's anything other than hard-working, professional, and responsible. By all accounts, her past performance reviews have been positive. I don't think she would lie, steal, or do anything else unethical at work. She doesn't mince words, and will never win miss congeniality, but is a nice, likeable person with no unreasonable personality traits. In other words, I can't see any reason she would be fired other than maybe her wage had become higher than the employer felt was justified.

Now to the questions:
Can they legitimately fight her unemployment?
Can they legally bully her into signing the resignation?
Can they legally threaten poor reference?
Are there other compensation avenues?

Bob Dole
01-03-2006, 04:50 PM
What state?

jspchief
01-03-2006, 04:51 PM
Sorry, Iowa.

I know laws are probably different everywhere, but I have to think general guidelines are common.

4th and Long
01-03-2006, 04:55 PM
Can they legitimately fight her unemployment?
Had they fired her, yes, they can. However, there will be no unemployment to fight about in this case because she effectively screwed herself out of that by signing a letter of resignation.
Can they legally bully her into signing the resignation?
Legally? No. Problem is, it's her word against theirs since she signed a letter of resignation.
Can they legally threaten poor reference?
Usually not however, it happens all the time.
Are there other compensation avenues?
Johnny Cochran is dead so probably not.

unlurking
01-03-2006, 05:14 PM
4th it on the head.

Zero recourse now since she signed the resignation.

HemiEd
01-03-2006, 05:22 PM
The State of Illinois has hearings with an arbitraitor for these kinds of things. If she states her case to the State agency, this employer could be ****ed. I can not believe an employer would even try this, do they still get by with pinching girls on the ass in Iowa?

JohnnyV13
01-03-2006, 05:22 PM
I did a quick check of the Iowa statutes, about disqualification for unemployment benefits:

The key issue here is that you still might be able to claim it despite her resignation. Under Iowa statutes you are disqualified by "voluntary quitting" unless the resignation is "reasonably attributable to the employer"

Also, a quick check of the statutes suggests the only real way they could contest her unemployment is to claim "gross misconduct" on her part, which is defined in the statutes as a "indictable offense"

jspchief
01-03-2006, 05:39 PM
I guess my biggest beef is they bullied her into signing that damn resignation. I would think there would be avenues for an employee to be protected from crooks like this.

I think she'd have a legit arguement in any type of arbitration. Why would she voluntarily quit a well-paying job she's held for 11 years?

I don't think she wants to sue for severance or anything of that nature, but I do think she's entitled to unemployment insurance until she finds a new job.

JohnnyV13
01-03-2006, 05:40 PM
I am not a labor lawyer so I am not well versed in this area, BUT it seems there might be some way to contest the resignation. Iowa's labor dept. determines if her resignation is reasonably attributable to the employer". The problem is the burden of proof is going to be on her. How can she establish that the employer coereced her into her resignation?

There are, however, arguments to be made. Why would a single mother of 3 suddenly quit her job if she has nothing else lined up? There is also the specter of sex discrimination. Perhaps her employer wanted to get rid of her b/c they don't want to promote single mothers with child obligations further into management. If other employees or ex employees of this firm has had similar experiences, perhaps there are complaints on file with the Iowa dept of labor. You don't know this until you investigate.

It may be worth your time seeking advice from a labor lawyer. But, the caveat here is, if you take legal action vs. a former employer with respect to employment discrimination, this could make future employers fear you are a "troublemaker". You might, however, use a threat of an employment discrimination suit to make them back off on the unemployment benefits.

Valiant
01-03-2006, 05:42 PM
Now to the questions:
Can they legitimately fight her unemployment?
Yes, but she can fight it also.. I tell her to go see a local lawyer... Also I would contact a newspaper, its Iowa so that is defiantly front page material.. Businesses hate bad press.. I would fight the resignation with a lawyer if it was me, she has no reason to be nice.. A good referal or bad referal means shit...

Can they legally bully her into signing the resignation?
Yes, but she has to prove she was forced.. Which imo would be easy, the resignation was probably done in the buisnesses favor, ie the stipulations and the way it was wrote out... I would defiantly fight for unemployeement..

Can they legally threaten poor reference?
Yes,

Are there other compensation avenues?
Seriously have her contact a lawyer, they cost nothing to see what avenue they can go... The most she will get out of it is a compensation package to not take it further.. I would seriously threaten public recourse action in the local paper or on the news about bad businesses practices...

JohnnyV13
01-03-2006, 05:44 PM
Yeah, this employer is playing dirty pool. In fact they set her up for this.

Look at what they did. 1 month earlier they demoted her and reduced her pay. I'll guarentee you in any administrative hearing before the labor dept they'll claim she got mad at her loss of pay and status and spontaneously quit.

What they want is to get rid of her without paying unemployment benefits. Its a damn sleazy business practice.

ChiefsfaninPA
01-03-2006, 05:58 PM
I work for the Labor and Industry department in Pennsylvania. Now I know that we have different laws than Iowa BUT for the most part you can voluntary quit your job. It is usually on you to show that you have neccesitious and compelling reasons to do so. I have seen many claims where the claimant did offer a resignation, but under duress and have been granted benefits. Now this is all PA law but I am sure it is sort of similiar in Iowa. But the resignation alone will not disqualify her if she can prove neccesitious and compelling reasons.

bishop_74
01-03-2006, 06:57 PM
Ummm, you need to go spend $100 and talk to a friggin lawyer. That is unbleivable. Might want to ask who was witness to this to have them testify.

trndobrd
01-03-2006, 07:37 PM
I don't know much about employment law, but there are a couple of issues which haven't been covered:

1) Why was she demoted in the first place? Any justification? Anything in writing?

2) Any other employees going through the same thing? If it's just her word against the employer, unless she can round up a group of other former employees for a class action suit.

3) Has anyone talked to the Dept of Labor? Sleazy employers sometimes develop reputations.

jspchief
01-04-2006, 06:52 AM
I don't know much about employment law, but there are a couple of issues which haven't been covered:

1) Why was she demoted in the first place? Any justification? Anything in writing?

2) Any other employees going through the same thing? If it's just her word against the employer, unless she can round up a group of other former employees for a class action suit.

3) Has anyone talked to the Dept of Labor? Sleazy employers sometimes develop reputations.
1). Not really sure. She's been with the company for 11 years and worked her way up to a pretty good wage. Maybe the company thought they could replace her with someone cheaper. They claimed is was poor work performance, but she says she has never received anything other than positive performance reviews, and her wage has been raised with each review.

2.) It's a big company, but she says there has been an odd string of firings in the last year or so. She hasn't kept in contact with those fired to know their details.

3.) The firing just happened yesterday, but I advised her to start making those types of phone calls today. I'm afraid if she sits on this, they can use the story that she quit then decided she wanted her job bcak later. By getting the ball rolling now, her story that she never wanted to quit and was strong-armed while in shock, will seem more plausible.

Hoover
01-04-2006, 07:22 AM
I don't like to fire people because is I do they get unemployment. Now if I want someone to leave, I get a little har on them till they quit.

Last month I fought an past employees atempt ot get unemployment benefits and won. She quit by the way....


She should still file for unemployment. There will be call between the employer, her, and an Unemployment person, they each will tell their side of the story, and the unemployment official will decied if she gets benefits or not. That decision is not final and can be appealed.

Thats her best route

King_Chief_Fan
01-04-2006, 08:01 AM
Don't know if any business owners or HR people can help, but I'll throw it out there.

Around a month ago, my SiL was told that she'd be getting demoted with a pay cut in '06, or she could resign. She needs the job, so obviously agreed to the demotion.

Today, she came to work and was told she was fired, reasoning being poor work performance. They asked her to sign a letter of resignation, and told if she didn't, they would not be a good reference if a prospective employer inquired. They also told her they would fight her if she claimed unemployment. She signed the resignation.

Here's the backstory that I know. She's worked at this place for 11 years, working her way up into management. She's a very responsible single mother of three, that highly valued her job. I don't know what kind of employee she is, but I doubt she's anything other than hard-working, professional, and responsible. By all accounts, her past performance reviews have been positive. I don't think she would lie, steal, or do anything else unethical at work. She doesn't mince words, and will never win miss congeniality, but is a nice, likeable person with no unreasonable personality traits. In other words, I can't see any reason she would be fired other than maybe her wage had become higher than the employer felt was justified.

Now to the questions:
Can they legitimately fight her unemployment? They can contest, however the state looks at the reasons and make the decision. Signing the resignation may have an impact on her ability to draw unemployment

Can they legally bully her into signing the resignation?
Not without compensation. Generally the releases on holding the employer "without fault" is because of offering the severed individual separation pay.
Can they legally threaten poor reference? They can threaten it...but, she has legal recourse to poor performance references, especially if there are none documented, reviewed with her, and her acknowledgement that it has been discussed with her.

Are there other compensation avenues? She should pursue the unemployment pay. The company denial to pay and reasoning may give her ammo she needs to pursue other litigation.

jidar
01-04-2006, 08:15 AM
Of course what if she deserved to be fired?
Hell it's not like shes going to come home and tell all her friends and family she was browsing the Internet 6 hours a day so they fired her for it.
Considering she was management she probably deserved to be fired since they pretty much all do. What if she didn't refill the coffee maker? Maybe she took smoke breaks every 45 minutes? Maybe she's a closet Broncos fan?
You never know man, they might have had a really good reason to can her.

jspchief
01-04-2006, 08:29 AM
Of course what if she deserved to be fired?
Hell it's not like shes going to come home and tell all her friends and family she was browsing the Internet 6 hours a day so they fired her for it.
Considering she was management she probably deserved to be fired since they pretty much all do. What if she didn't refill the coffee maker? Maybe she took smoke breaks every 45 minutes? Maybe she's a closet Broncos fan?
You never know man, they might have had a really good reason to can her.You could be right. That would mean she's lying to me, and that every instinct I have about what type of person she is is wrong.

She claims to have a copy of every performance review she's ever received. To get 11 years worth of good reviews and pay raises, I would think she's done her job well for the most part.

If she's lying, and they had a good reason to fire her, it will all work itself out when she files for unemployment insurance.

Bob Dole
01-04-2006, 08:44 AM
You could be right. That would mean she's lying to me, and that every instinct I have about what type of person she is is wrong.

She claims to have a copy of every performance review she's ever received. To get 11 years worth of good reviews and pay raises, I would think she's done her job well for the most part.

If she's lying, and they had a good reason to fire her, it will all work itself out when she files for unemployment insurance.

She should take all of her documentation (reviews, communications, etc) and go to the EEOC today.

Brock
01-04-2006, 08:46 AM
She should take all of her documentation (reviews, communications, etc) and go to the EEOC today.

That's good advice.

Hoover
01-04-2006, 08:50 AM
I think it was all the time she was wasting on www.ChiefsPlanet.com

Baby Lee
01-04-2006, 08:54 AM
First step, go ahead and apply for unemployment. Nothing's going anywhere until she claims benefits. Then it's up the company to appeal her entitlement. If it's anything like MO, that appeal [IF the company appeals] will be heard by telephone calls placed by an administrative judge at the state department of labor. She's entitled to counsel, but it's not common at that level.

Bob Dole
01-04-2006, 09:43 AM
Around a month ago, my SiL was told that she'd be getting demoted with a pay cut in '06, or she could resign. She needs the job, so obviously agreed to the demotion.

At the request of Bob Dole's HR expert:

What reason was given for the previous demotion and pay cut?

jspchief
01-04-2006, 09:47 AM
At the request of Bob Dole's HR expert:

What reason was given for the previous demotion and pay cut?I don't remember. I'll find out at lunch time. I think she was told that they had someone better for her job.

btlook1
01-04-2006, 10:58 AM
If her story is true and she was a good employee and they did that to me, I would just tell the HR person that fired me that I will file every kind of claim against them that I can think of...sexual harrasement, discrimination. The eeoc can find all kinds of things to file....you can harass a company for years and years, making it much cheaper to have just paid the unemployment. I probably wouldn't actually do it...there are to many people in the world doing shit like that nowdays...but revenge is a sweet thing!

Braincase
01-04-2006, 11:10 AM
I hope she goes American Beauty on 'em.

"We had been having an affair for several years, and he told me over and over again how he was going to leave his wife for me. I broke it off because I had enough of his lies and deceit, and that's when he demoted me. He kept harrassing me, coming on to me, telling me that if I didn't sleep with him again, he'd make my life a living hell."