Fired Unfairly And Without Cause

Question:

I was let go from my job recently and circumstances surrounding it are strange. I was called in to talk to my manager and supervisor. Actually, it was them doing all the talking and me not afforded the chance to rebut or respond.

I was told that some other employees felt afraid of me. No written documentation or specifics were cited. One of the things I allegedly said was mentioned but my manager and supervisor both told me they never hear me talk like that. I also never witnessed anyone being afraid of me.

Yes, I would occasionally get angry but that is human and I told this to my manager and supervisor and they said everyone is like that. I occasionally would mutter something but nothing threatening or personal and most of my coworkers, many of whom are from other countries, always mutter and talk amongst themselves in other languages. I feel that they are intimidating as they often would mob against others and have the supervisor on their side.

Anyway, termination was not mentioned and they said they would not want to have to let me go. Next day, I was let go (manager only). Nothing in writing provided and manager said she would talk to HR. Apparently she had spoken to the owner and this was his idea.

I was never informed of an investigation or asked for my side or given proof of anything. I simply left and that was that. I was made to feel like a criminal and quite honestly have been upset ever since.

I think this whole thing underscores management deficiencies more than anything else. But who am I to pass judgement? I am simply a hardworking guy with good performance reviews and fairly recent 4.8% raise who puts his job and others above himself and his own concerns.

It seems to me that the good guy always gets screwed in the end, and if they had wanted me gone all along they were just looking for, or fabricating, the excuse and/or time.

I really am concerned about my reputation and what might be in the file. I do not believe I ever signed anything in it- not even performance reviews and certainly nothing involving discipline now or ever.

I really could use some expert advice here. I am not looking for anything more than keeping my reputation in the clear and moving on. Quite frankly, I don’t want to be part of a place that takes someone else’s word over mine without ever even bothering to hear my side or see if there is an underlying cause to everyone’s issues- like poor supervision or unequal treatment and bias in applying rules and regulations (if there are any in writing).

I appreciate your help.

Signed,

Frustrated and Worried


Answer:

Dear Frustrated and Worried:

I’m very sorry about this situation and wish there was something I could say to make it more acceptable–but I know there isn’t.

The nature of your work and the size of the business has a great deal to do with laws in some states that relate to dismissal. In most workplaces an employee can be dismissed for no cause or for any cause.

If you feel there have been state labor law violations related to this matter you should contact your state’s department of labor about it. Or, if you had a contract for your work, you might have recourse. But, honestly it sounds as though the decision was made, acted on and it’s over. And, I would surmise your employer can show justification that would seem logical to an uninvolved person.

When you apply for another position give the most often used reason for leaving–you wanted other opportunities. Whether there was a dismissal or if you would have been allowed to resign, most former employers will only verify employment when they are contacted by potential employers. Thus, I think there is a good chance you will be able to move forward without this having an effect on your opportunities.

You might want to ask if you can have copies of your evaluation forms, so you can use those as part of your resume. You can also show a future employer that you were given a raise recently. If you interacted with anyone from outside the company, get their contact information and see if they would be a reference based on your work with them. As for what happened–that is obviously very difficult to say. It would seem to me that if you were a good to excellent employee who had formerly never caused problems you would not have been summarily fired…unless the matter was considered urgent.

It could have been that the thing you are accused of saying is so severe that your employer didn’t want to take a chance that it might have been true. However, even then, it would seem there must have been odds and ends of issues that piled up to make firing seem appropriate.

You may have some idea of what started it all but you don’t agree that what happened was serious. Apparently someone thought it was. I will say this–and again, I don’t know your situation and don’t wish to be judgmental, after the fact–but, many employees in all work settings have never shown anger to the extent that it was obvious at wor–as you say you have done. So, perhaps your anger seems less severe to you than it does to others.

Most people don’t mutter in an angry sounding way, either. So, it could be the anger and the muttering, mixed with language issues, created a more hostile sound and appearance than you realized. Your manager should have talked to you about those issues before they got so bad that complaints were made. But, apparently they didn’t do that. Sadly, many supervisors and managers will say, “He shouldn’t have to be told”, and they let a problem grow.

I do think it is a shame that your managers and supervisors don’t have enough courage to be open with you. Blaming it on the company owner is convenient for them–but I doubt it happened just that way.

If you have even one friend at your former work who will be honest with you, contact him and tell him that you think it is vital that you get the honest truth about how you were seen by employees . Ask him to level with you about anything you need to work on before the next job. Maybe that will be useful and will at least let you feel you have some answers.

It may be that you genuinely are blameless in every way and that for some reason you were fired to save money or to keep other employees from creating problems. Whatever the situation, now you can start anew and be in a better workplace than this one.

Best wishes to you as you focus on your new chapter and how you want to “write” it. I hope you will use your inner strength and the essential goodness you possess, and find ways to be happy and healthy. If you have the opportunity and wish to do so, let us know what happens and how things work out for you.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.