Decption In The Workplace? No!

Question:

I work on a machine. A coworker distracted my attention and I missed a lockout. He then called the safety coordinator and found it missing. I was fired and denied my unemployment. I am 60 years old and cannot find a job. What am I to do?

Signed,

Deception and Fired


Answer:

Dear Deception and Fired:

I don’t understand why you titled your query “Decption In The Workplace.” I can’t see that any one deceived you. Being distracted is not deception. Nor is being fired for finding something missing. Since you say you are 60 years old and can’t find a job, I assume that this incident occurred some time ago. Can you do anything about this firing now? Maybe. Maybe not. Missing a lockout must have been a serious mistake, and the company policy might be that such an error is so dangerous to safety or to equipment that guilty employees are to be fired. What can you do? I will suggest several things you might consider doing. 1. You might ask for your job back. How long were you employed by that company? Is this your first mistake? Do you have a record of satisfactory performance? How did they fire you? Did they provide the reason in writing? Were you given an opportunity to say why you were distracted and given a chance to apologize or put on probation? These are the kind of questions that you probably have thought about and would need to answer if you were to ask for your job back. And that might be a possibility if you have special skills and except for the lockout error were a responsible employee. A firing for one mistake seems to be unusual. What did the company policy book say about discipline and discharge? Most companies know it costs them to find and train new hires, so you have this on you side, should you return and ask for another chance. If you do, don’t blame your error on a co-worker. It was you who allowed yourself to be distracted. Fess up and ask for trial period to prove you will not allow that to happen again.

2. Seek unemployment compensation. Check with a state and/or federal agency to learn if you are entitled for such if you were fired. 3. Consult an attorney. You say you are 60. Have other employees been fired by this company once they got near retirement? If so, you might consult a labor attorney to advise you if you have any recourse. Most companies can fire and hire for a good reason or no reason if they have no union. But if older workers are fired because a company wants to hire younger employees, it might be guilty of age discrimination. 4. Don’t cave in to a can’t. Surely, 60 years of experience is worth something. What skills do you have? What projects have you worked on? List those. Take them with you to other workplaces. You might not find work that pays as well or is exacting to your liking, but if you need work, be humble enough to work at almost anything. Or go to an employment agency that finds temporary, if not permanent, jobs. The important thing for you is to keep a positive mindset. I know of retired people who have found part-time jobs and/or made a small business for themselves as handymen. One handyman job has led to the next. So you are now faced with an uncomfortable job of hunting for work as an older person. You can do that or make your own job. If you don’t find a job soon, volunteer in a hospital or community agency or church, possibly as a janitor. I’ve done that kind of work.

Do feel free to write us again and let us know if any of these options make sense to you. And tell us what you are doing after a month or two. You are too young to become a couch potato and to feel see your self as a victim. Keep moving in body and mind, and keep looking. Think can-do.

William Gorden