My question involves unemployment benefits for the state of: New York
Hello and thank you for any advice you can give...
On May 9th I was terminated from my job for insubordination. I was employed as a teacher's assistant at a residential treatment center for severely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children. On April 14th I was called at home by my supervisor telling me not to report to work the next day due to the fact that allegations of child abuse were made against me. In the nine days prior to this, I had been in 17 restraints with a particular child in my classroom. Mind you, I am a 46 year old grandmother, I am only 5'4" and about 150 pounds. This was a child that my supervisor and I had been butting heads about for months, as I felt his IEP was not being followed, he was not receiving necessary services, and I felt his treatment plan was ineffective (hence the many restraints he was in daily).
On April 27th, I was interviewed both by a state investigator and my employer's investigator. I was cleared of the abuse charges. On April 28th, I checked my bank account and realized I had not received my paycheck. This became a battle-it took five days for that situation to be resolved, and only after complaining to the department of labor. I had called my supervisor and he told me it would be taken care of, but it was not. On Friday, April 29th, I called the principal of the school to ask for his assistance in getting my pay. He questioned me as to why I had not reported to work that day. I told him I had never received any indication from anyone that I was supposed to return to work. He told me he would find out if I was indeed supposed to be there and get back to me. He called me back approximately 20 minutes later to inform me that my supervisor was supposed to call me the day before, but "didn't have my home phone number". My home phone number is in the phone book, besides the fact that my supervisor was able to call me to tell me NOT to come to work when the investigation was begun.
I returned to work on Monday May 2nd. I reported to my classroom as usual, worked the entire day, and never saw or spoke to my supervisor. On Tuesday, I reported to work and was called by my supervisor and asked to report to a different classroom as the normal TA for that room had called in sick that day. I was to cover for her. I was familiar with the students in that room as we had a shared gym class, and I worked with them several times per week. I reported to the classroom and worked all day without incident.
On Wednesday, I reported to work as usual. When I was walking down the hallway to enter my classroom, my supervisor approached me in the crowded hallway and asked me to cover a different classroom, the worst in the entire school. I became panicky because this classroom was different than my usual one for several reasons-I would be the only TA in the room (my usual assigned classroom had two, myself and a male TA), and I didn't know the children, and the teacher in the room had a reputation for sitting at his desk and playing games on his computer. I became concerned for my safety and was asking my supervisor why he was doing this to me, we have a float TA whose job it is to cover classrooms when people are absent, why wasn't he sending the float TA (a strong male staff who was taking my place in my classroom), etc. I asked him if the investigators had recommended that he move my classroom? He replied "no, this is my decision." I was truly panicked and scared, and I knew I was about to burst into tears in the middle of the hallway filled with kids and staff. I said "i'm leaving" and walked down the stairs to try to find the principal to talk to him and also to get out of sight of the kids....they tend to become very agitated if they see someone else who is upset and I didn't want to send one of them into a crisis situation. Although I tried to get myself under control so I could carry out the assignment, I just couldn't stop crying. I couldn't find the principal so I spoke to my teacher whose room i normally worked in, sobbing the entire time. I then was able to speak to the principal about my concerns for my safety (again, still crying). He sort of poo-pooed my concerns, saying that they didn't take those things into consideration when deciding who would work where...this is news to me, that's normally the first concern. At any rate, I was unable to get myself together enough to enter a classroom that day. The next day I reported to work and went to the new assigned room. I worked in that classroom for the next three days, being injured twice on Monday May 9th. At the end of the day Monday May 9th, I was called to admin and fired for insubordination, due to refusing a classroom assignment. My argument is that I did not refuse the assignment, I was unable to carry it out due to my distraught emotional state, which was caused by genuine concerns for my safety and also the safety of the kids in the room. I have several witnesses to my state of mind and the fact that I was crying my eyes out (I was in the employee mail/copy room to keep out of sight of our kids). My unemployment was denied and I am requesting a hearing. I am wondering if I have a chance? I was employed there for two years with excellent reviews and worked my butt off. I had approximately 10-15 work related injuries in two years (none requiring time off and only three requiring doctor's care, but I filled out injury reports for all of them). My safety concerns were definitely justified. Any thoughts?