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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    5

    Exclamation Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    My question involves unemployment benefits for the state of: California

    I truly hope someone can assist -

    When the crash hit in 2008 I was laid off after 4 years of faithful service as a paralegal in a well-respected family law firm that hit serious hard times. Since I was the employee with the least seniority the decision was made to let me go.

    I was then hired by a privately-owned financial services firm. Initially, the owner of the business lowballed me with an offer that was $15K below what I was making as a paralegal. After some negotiating, we settled at $8,000 below my previous salary. The owner stated in the interview that he "had no problem" paying my requested salary after I proved myself as a good fit for the company, and further stated "I can afford that salary and have no problem with it, I just need to know you can handle the position first, then I have no problem paying you that rate."

    I excelled and put my all into the position, and made several substantial structural improvements to the business in general, over and above fulfilling my position's duties. My work basically transformed the business from a ramshackle operation featuring huge stacks of loose paper all over the floor into a well-oiled, fully digitized, fully organized machine. Most of the work I took on completely on my own with little input from the owner, except for enthusiastic praise and cheer and requests to keep it coming.

    My hiring paperwork mentioned a 180 day review, but the review never happened. Finally, once two weeks past my 1-year anniversary passed, I wrote a letter requesting the increase I was promised on hiring. My letter detailed out all of the improvements to the business I had brought since my hire.

    The owner wrote me back and flatly denied not only my request for the previously agreed upon salary, but ANY increase in my rate despite acknowledging my great track record.

    Shortly after that time, I learned my wife was pregnant. Since we took an $8K hit in salary decrease for me to take the job, we were already struggling to make ends meet, but now with a baby coming, I am really concerned.

    Worried that my employer would never give any kind of increase, since that didn't look like it was in his plans after all, I began applying for jobs each night at home. I also began applying for jobs during the day at work. I would simply forward a saved copy of my resume and compose a brief cover letter by email. While I admit that this is not proper, I still managed my duties with flying colors and continued running the office with great efficiency. However, I was totally unprepared for the owner’s response.

    Upon arriving one morning about two weeks ago, the owner called me into his office and told me that he has reason to beleive that I am looking for another job. He asked me how much notice I would be willing to give the company if I found another position.

    I admitted that I had been looking for a new job and explained to him the dilemma with my wife being pregnant and again made my case that I can't survive on what he is paying me unless he can make good on his promise to pay me the salary he had agreed to during the interview. I stated that if I found employment I would definitely give at least the standard 2 weeks notice if I received an offer from another company.

    The owner stated that he knows I have been sending resumes from the office computer and his trust in me is "completely broken". He stated that he has already hired someone to take over my job and that furthermore they would be starting that morning.

    I stated that I didn't agree with this and asked why he didn't just speak with me first or provide some other disciplinary measure rather than an immediate firing and re-hiring.

    The owner stated that he would never trust me again, because he thought I was going to be a long-term employee, and furthermore he stated that two weeks notice is not enough for him to train a new person. He asked that I give a months' notice at least if I was hired elsewhere. He stated that he will allow my position to become temporary, to terminate in 60 days, as long as I fully train the new person he hired on my duties. Otherwise, I would be fired immediately that minute.

    I asked if he could lay me off to give me time to look for another job, and I explained that if I can't get unemployment, it would be catastrophic for my family since we could not make rent. He stated that he will not agree to unemployment for me.

    With no other choice, I simply had to swallow this terrible situation, and I had to sign my a skewed letter memorializing the situation (I signed it "as received only") and I have been training my replacement for the past 3 days.

    If I file for unemployment, and the owner denies my request, and says I was using company computers to job search, do I still have a chance at getting unemployment?

    I am up against the wall, I know I shouldn't have applied for jobs from work, but we are desperate as it is, and now it looks like my job will be terminated at any time, as soon as the owner determines that my replacement is trained enough. It sickens me to have to train my replacement.

    One more word, I know the owner is really getting rid of me because I asked for more money than he wants to pay, and I know he is paying my replacement (someone much younger and less experienced than me) much less, because the last thing the owner said to me before my replacement arrived for her first day was "please do not discuss the salary I paid you with her". Also please know that I know the owner is making a huge amount of money from the business and my salary is only a drop in the bucket to that.

    Any help would be so much appreciated by myself, and my wife and child. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Fired for Job-Searching- Unemployment in California - Please Help-Baby Coming

    The company doesn't deny UI benefits, the state does.

    You probably pretty much shot yourself in the foot by using your employer's time and equipment to apply for other jobs. He could have let you go and hired someone else to whom he would pay a lower salary even without you doing the job search thing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    Oh, ok thanks Patty, well that would explain why my foot smarts so.

    Yes, I'm aware that the state is the decision making body regarding UI.

    How can I argue my case when/if the owner objects to my receiving UI and represents I committed misconduct after I present my case as to what I believe is an unfair termination?

    Also, under the scenario you mentioned above - "...He could have let you go and hired someone else to whom he would pay a lower salary even without you doing the job search thing..." - wouldn't I be eligible for UI? It seems in that case I would be, free and clear, since my employer would then be firing me with no cause. So I am not sure what the purpose of your mentioning that scenario here would be.

    Additionally, your response completely sidesteps a key moral issue in this case, which as I see it is using an employee for a year to completely set up your office by promising him a higher wage as a carrot on a stick, then reneging on the promise, then replacing him at the first opportunity to capitalize on a instance of misconduct, and minor misconduct at that, with no disciplinary recourse offered first.

    What would be great would be to get an actual strategy as to how to present the information to CA when the inevitable dispute arises.

    Please don't just write back, "you can't" or something to that effect, as this is not helpful. What would you do in my shoes if you were fired for sending a resume to an employer from work? Simply sit there and take it? Or would you fight to defend your rights and your family from an unfair employer who lied and took advantage of you for a whole year?

    If you would fight it, how would you fight it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    27,554

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    While you may feel the termination was unfair, it was not illegal.

    Morality and fairness don't really enter the equation, and your rights have not been violated at all.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    2,360

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
    View Post
    While you may feel the termination was unfair, it was not illegal.

    Morality and fairness don't really enter the equation, and your rights have not been violated at all.
    Bingo. Morality and fairness are subjective terms; they mean whatever the speaker says they mean---to the speaker. The state doesn't care that you've been "taken advantage of". They only care about the incident that resulted in your termination; nothing more.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    Hi Dogmatique,

    Thanks for your perspective here.

    I am not trying to allege the firing is "illegal" or that my rights have been violated. I am trying to pursue any recourse to the limit of my rights, and I need advice as to the boundaries thereof.

    I am trying to create a strategy as to how to present my side of this matter to the EDD if and when my employer objects to my characterizing what occurred as a wrongful termination. That is my plan at this point.

    Also, I understand your assertion "morality and fairness don't enter into the equation" and I would argue that this kind attitude is completely what is wrong in this country today.

    Morality and Fairness DO matter, right?

    "It's not law that makes man free, it's man that's got to make the law free" - Henry David Thoreau

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    27,554

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    I don't think you understand how things work.

    "Wrongful termination" has a very specific meaning - and what happened to you does not fall under "wrongful termination".

    You can argue all you want here, but it won't change the bottom line: You were not wrongfully terminated, and what matters is what is legal and what is not legal.

    Again, "morality and fairness" don't enter the equation. The law is the law. If you want the law to change, you start by writing your congressperson.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    First of all, a "wrongful termination" has a specific meaning under the law, i.e. being fired for a reason that the law prevents. This was nowhere near a wrongful termination.

    You may not like the "attitude" that "morality and fairness don't enter into the equation", but that's the way it is; that's the law in the unemployment arena.

    UI is not a needs-based program. It is for people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Seriously, why should the employer's tax rate go up as a result of you being granted UI benefits when the employer did nothing wrong in terminating you for using the employer's time and equipment to search for another job? Millions of people do that from home every day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    Patty, thanks for your reply.

    So I get it, you don't think I've got a chance. Thanks for letting me know your opinion on that.

    However, this is a "Legal Help" site correct? So is there any chance that you could offer some legal, uh, "help"?

    Let me clarify, by "help" I don't mean simply offering up your opinion that I'm doomed and it's not about morality etc.

    What I'm looking for here is some kind of information or suggestions that will actually assist me in fighting this.

    So do you have any thoughts as to what that would be, or will it just be more flat nay-saying and brow-beating?

    I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just trying to articulate to you that I don't need to be judged, rather assisted.

    Thanks Patty, and also thanks Dogmatique.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Fired for Looking for a Different Job - Can I Get Unemployment

    No, it's a legal "information" site.

    I'm sorry this is not the answer you wanted to hear, and I would never say don't file; I've seen stranger things happen. But be realistic. How do you expect to convince the state that you did not do anything wrong? I honestly can't think of a justifiable reason.

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