Wrongful Termination

Question:

Until this week I worked for a company that has 42 employees, many of them related. The president is the mother, the vice president is the daughter, 2nd vice president is the son, and the plant manager and my former boss are husband and wife. The wife has two brothers working there.

I’ve had long-term personal issues with the plant manager,wife and one brother stemming from production issues and repeated problems about conflicting directions.

Two months ago a co-worker noticed that my boss and one of her brothers were coming in late and it turned out that her husband had been signing them in on time. Somehow this was brought to the VP’s attention and she investigated.

All of a sudden my boss brings me into the office and said “I am firing you for tampering with my timecard.” The 2nd VP was there and he said, “No, we’re firing you because you and your she (my boss) don’t see eye to eye.”

They’ve been trying to get me to quit for a long time. There is a major conflict between VPs and I took the brunt of it.

What can I do? There is a lot more to this story but I posted the most recent and shocking.

They are not contesting my unemployment wages, but I’m now out of work while they are still employed and loving life. I feel like a criminal and I did nothing wrong.

The VP called me last night and cried and said it was out of her hands and there was nothing she could do.

Signed,

Out of Work and Worried


Answer:

DearĀ Out of Work and Worried:

I edited your message a bit to focus on the most serious aspects of the situation. I’m very sorry, but I don’t think there really is anything you can do about this matter except move forward and look for another job that has a much better management and supervisory team, and that is more open and honest about work situations.

We receive many letters (one other one today) about businesses that are either family owned or have many relatives working together. It often creates the kind of problems to which you refer.

The only thing I can suggest would be to appeal to the owner/president and give her a written account of what happened. Ask her to review your work records and see if they don’t show that you have been a dependable employee for a long time. You may want to ask her to talk to her daughter, the VP, about the behind-the-scenes issues that were going on.

On the other hand, there is nothing to require a company to keep an employee with whom they feel there are many conflicts. You say you have had a variety of problems with your boss and others over production matters. You are probably right when you say they wanted you to quit. So, they looked for a reason to fire you instead.

Your boss said you were being fired for tampering with her time card, but the higher ranking person, the VP, said no, it wasn’t that. He said you were being fired because of long-standing conflicts with your immediate supervisor. (A fact that you admit has been the case.) Apparently your employers (more than one or two people were involved in this, I’m sure) looked at the totality of the situation and decided to move you out of the company. You were probably well known and the first VP probably felt badly that it turned out as it did, which is why she called you. That’s why I said at the beginning that as sad as it is to say, there really isn’t anything to do (apart from writing to the owner or president) except to collect as much unemployment as you can and look for a better working situation.

I know this must all seem devastating to you, and I wish there was some way to give you a more positive answer about it. But, the one positive thing is that this may allow you to find work someplace that isn’t so messed up all the time. If you can do that, your life at work and away from work will be much better.

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

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.