Verbal Warning

Question:

As the employee, do I have to sign a verbal warning? I was recently terminated, and the unemployment woman says she has over 20 verbal warnings. I have no knowledge of these. They are only signed by my regional manager. I signed one written warning, but I am sure the written ones are not true. What can I do to fight this? They are lying. Thanks for your help.

Signed,

Frustrated


Answer:

Dear Frustrated:

Every organization has different policies about employees signing correctional actions taken by a supervisor. In most organizations only serious disiplinary actions have to be written out and acknowledged with a signature by the employee. In a few organizations, any “behind closed door” sessions about correction or commendations, are documented and signed.

Most organizations allow supervisors to informally document that they told an employee to stop doing this or start doing that or whatever, without it being viewed as a formal disciplinary action or even formal counseling. That may be what the unemployment office counselor is talking about. There may have been twenty memos written to a manager, or twenty notes in an informal file.

If you have copies of any of your performance evaluations, or could get them, those might counter the suggestion that you had long-term or serious problems.

However, the bottom line for your situation is that you have already been terminated, so whether you did or didn’t sign something is probably a moot point–it’s over and done with.

The only way it would be a key issue would be if the unemployement office counselor says, without a doubt, that if you had not received those verbal warnings, she would allow you to receive unemployment compensation. But, because of those verbal warnings you are not going to receive it. THEN, there would be a reason to find out what you can do.

I would imagine the written warning and the dismissal action is all that is needed for her to make a decision about it–and you do acknowledge you received a written warning. You may want to ask her what impact the verbal warnings had on her decision.

Even if you think proving you didn’t get those warnings would make a difference, unfortunately you have no leverage to ask your former employer for documentation to prove the matter. So, the best you could do would be to get an attorney to assist you, which would cost more than the unemployment compensation.

I don’t want to be negative or to sound discouraging. But, I want to be honest about saying it probably wouldn’t make a difference if you had been warned verbally or not, except for your personal feelings…and I can understand those.

I would bet there had been ongoing problems at work and you and your immediate boss had some problems of one kind or another. (Just speculating.) You may have not thought her remarks about your behavior, work product or attitude were actually warnings, but she may have viewed them that way.

I can imagine your frustration and concern over this. No one wants to feel they were unfairly accused or that other people might hear or believe untrue things. But I don’t think there is much if anything you can do about it at this point.

You may find your best course of action is to get another job just as quickly as possible and learn from the experiences of the last one. The next one may not be your dream job either, but perhaps you can build a good resume and references there, planning on the NEXT job.

*Managers rarely lie about people with whom they have a good relationship and who are doing good work. So, your first step should be to find out what is needed by your manager and provide that every day. Be such a positive aspect of work that you would be the last one to be considered for termination.

*Work place effectiveness involves two issues: Willingness and Ability. Gain both of those and work to show them every day. Find out how you can be most effective and be those things. As you have probably found, it’s worth putting up with some irritations to have a job.

*Gain influence and you will be able to help things change or create better work situations for yourself. Influence is gained by being credible, valuable, dependable and by communicating regularly and effectively.

I hope you can get your unemployment situation worked out and that the new year brings a new focus in your life–and new work that you will enjoy more. Best wishes!

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.