What Can I Do About Being Framed and Fired?

Question:

My boss spread rumors to co-workers and blamed me for the rumors. HR found two employees to make statements blaming me. I was fired and am appealing not getting unemployment benefits.

I was framed and am innocent, but could not convince HR or Department of Labor. How do I fight this? I do have witnesses that said I was framed, but they are afraid they will lose their job if they testify.

I was employeed for 18 years and received many awards. I have never been written up. Isn’t there a procedure to give employees warnings first or write them up before firing?

I am so stressed out and very depressed.I have drained my 401K to live on while trying to get unemployment. I am broke and can’t pay my bills. My car broke down five months ago and I can’t pay my rent. Help!

Signed,

Framed and Frightened


Answer:

DearĀ Framed and Frightened:

I am very, very sorry all of this is happening, and can imagine how frightening and upsetting it is. However, it seems there is nothing you can do to get a reversal of the firing and little you can do to change the decision of the Department of Labor about Unemployment Insurance.

You should put together your resume and gather a list of references so you can get another job as quickly as possible. (I know that is easy for me to say and probably something you have been doing all along.) One thing that will help you will be to have copies of awards and positive performance reviews. If you don’t have those, contact HR at the former job and ask for copies. Nearly always those will be given to you.

I also strongly, strongly encourage you to investigate counseling for both employment issues and to help you handle the emotional upset this is bound to be causing. There may be such agencies through the DOL, or you may have resources through your church or through community agencies. At least find a person you respect to talk to as you work through this. You owe that to yourself to not tackle this alone.

You ask if there is a system of warnings before dismissal. In most companies there is a progressive discipline program. But some things might be considered so serious the company would immediately jump to firing. And, most employers are not obligated to follow a process.

I am not doubting your view of the situation. However, I am inclined to think there was more going on than an accusation of spreading a rumor. If you were a good employee for 18 years, it would seem odd a boss would want to have you fired for no reason. So, it seems likely there was ongoing conflict or some other problem you knew about that led up to this.

Often employees don’t realize they are being warned every time a boss expresses dissatisfaction or irritation. If nothing changes the boss may feel his or her warning was ignored. After many years of work most employees think it is highly unlikely they will be fired so they ignore indicators that other employees are unhappy with them or that they should perform or behave differently.

I don’t know if that happened in your case. But, it is almost certain that something more happened than the one false allegation.

The reason I push that point is that it is that is shows you why it is unlikely you will get your claim resolved unless you can convince fellow employees to have the courage to support you, knowing how much it will mean to you if they do. If they won’t tell the truth, even knowing how much you need that, you are certainly better off without working there anyway. But you also should accept that your case is essentially closed and done with there.

I know you have likely been looking for work, but I want to urge you to put all of your energies into that. It sounds as though so far you have done your best to try to prove that you were falsely accused. The bottom line is that your former employers made an administrative decision that was reviewed by several people. It is highly unlikely there will be any change in that.

I don’t know what your knowledge and skill areas are, but I feel sure you can find a job that uses them. I realize that is more difficult after a long time in another place and more challenging if one is past being a young person. But you need a job, have to have one and will find one.

If your work area lends itself to it, check on temporary work or part time work. Consider work in a different area than formerly. Check on any social service support you might receive. It may be the biggest challenge you have ever faced, but one you can surmount.

I wish I had a magic answer for you in this situation, but obviously I don’t. But, I do believe someone who has the drive to be considered a good employee and to work, as you seem to do, will succeed and learn from the experience.

Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens with this.

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.