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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4

    Default How Do I Win an UC Appeal for Hostile Environment

    My question involves unemployment benefits for the state of: PA

    Hi guys.

    I was denied Unemployment back in Jan. Because Unemployment stated that there was insufficient evidence provided that my "voluntary quit" was of necessitous and compelling nature. I immediately appealed the "determination" and I have a hearing before a referee in a few days.
    My entire case is based upon the fact that the environment was insufferable because of harassment that I endured thanks to my perceived sexual orientation.
    I had to deal with every thing from being called the "f" word--to having to sit through meetings where managers mockingly talked about male-male sex acts--to these same managers speaking to each other using lispy baritones in a sophomoric attempt at mimicking "gay" speech patterns.
    I also had to hear from more than one other co-worker how much they hated gays (they used the "f" word). Often times this behavior happened near me, but was not directed towards me, so I simply took it as part of the work-place environment.
    I complained a lot about the indignities of this level of hostility, however I was afraid to speak directly to the heart of the issue and complain about the Homosexual aspect of the taunts. For instance, I complained to my personal manager that another manager had "made fun of my clothes" when in fact he said "that "f" wears the same clothes everyday".
    I also complained about one of the work areas, where I had been subjected to some of the most vociferous bashing, by simply complaining every chance I got about the workers language, attitude, and lack of respect, I only briefly touched on the fact that I was berated made fun of, spoken down to and bashed for being what these people termed "gay". With my complaints, I know that I went up the chain of command from co-workers to team Manager then General Manager and so on, and I also know that since all of the managers were part of this environment they knew what was being said, and by whom, I just don't know how to argue this case since I have never had to quit a job like this before. How do i successfully argue Hostile work environment on this issue heavy case?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How Do I Win an UC Appeal for Hostile Environment

    Most of what you describe sounds like working conditions rather than the creation of a hostile environment created towards you. Even you say that much of what bothered you wasn't directed AT you. You can get an idea of what PA courts think about circumstances that constitute "compelling nature" at:

    http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/CWealt...D07_4-2-08.pdf

    Note that "compelling" needs to be much more than uncomfortable, unhappy, etc. Even things like harassment aften aren't considered outragous enough - see Blackwell v. Commonwealth, Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 124 Pa.Cmwlth. 9, 555 A.2d 279 (1989). And, when the harassment is perpetrated by co-workers rather than by management, the employer must generally be aware of the harassment and fail to act on it before it will give rise to a necessitous and compelling reason to quit. You yourself say that you did NOT fill management in on the EXACT and ACTUAL things that were the issue.

    I only briefly touched on the fact that I was berated made fun of, spoken down to and bashed for being what these people termed "gay".
    But if this is the behavior that you consider to be so compelling that you needed to quit the job, THIS is the behavior that needed to be explicitly and specifically reported to management (and preferably DOCUMENTED reports) if there is to be hope on appeal. Just "touching on it" probably isn't going to make the grade, but you can always hope.

    As always, the absolute best advice you'll get on appellate issues with UC claims is a highly experienced attorney who practices with these specific types of appeals in the courts in YOUR area.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,393

    Default Re: How Do I Win an UC Appeal for Hostile Environment

    The term, "hostile work environment" has a very specific meaning under the law. If you were not being subjected to either sexual harassment or illegal discrimination under Title VII and related laws, you were not, legally, in an HWE. Sexual orientation is not covered under Title VII (which I think is a shame) and I cannot see that it is covered under state law in PA either. Therefore, legally, no matter how unpleasant it was, you were not in an HWE as far as the legal definition goes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: How Do I Win an UC Appeal for Hostile Environment

    Thank you so much. I found the court case gave me a good idea as to what a necessitous and compelling reason really is. I have been trying to do research into this and found only road blocks.

    What I did want to say, was that while my case hinged on the "hostility" that i faced, other factors forced me to walk-away. During my last day, the managers told me that because of my "sleep-walking" performance as of late, I was probably going to be fired. I was told that I had poor behavior and that I "didn't want to be there anymore". I was also told that since I had called out the week before--with the Flu no less--there was really no need to let me finish the month. They sent me home and said that they would consider wether or not I had a Job on Monday. My former team manager, said that he would no longer "stand up for me" since I had "sleep walked" through the last few months. So the decision was left to the manager that had called me a "F" and a manager who had quit the company and later returned claiming that I was the reason (for the separation).
    On top of this, our original job description no longer matched what we were being forced to do on a daily basis. What we signed on to do and what we ended up doing became two different beasts. Most of my new-hire class had perished in the atmosphere created by our work environment, so I was left there doing work which I had not contracted to do. Some of this work placed me at risk of great personal harm (even to the point of death).
    I complained to all managers about these "assignments" and was duly rebuffed. I was also forced to take a pay-cut of 600 dollars per month, and this was during a period of non-"open enrollment" for health care benefits. I had some of the most expensive health benefits in the company and this would have been tantamount to working just for health-care. I asked the general manager if we would be paid our "bonuses" as we sold the goods--this would have supplanted my missing income--but after weeks of asking the company top brass i was told a resounding "no".
    There were also several instances of my work being stopped by management tussles. Such is the case when one of the most vital managers quit in the middle of an evening. I had a customer coming from another state who would have needed to see this manager in order to make her sales contract binding. The sale could have been lost, and the customer returned to her home-state hundreds of miles away--forced to return the next week to finish paper-work. Also, because of the lax enforcement of management attendence, there were several instances when a manager was not there to help in any step of the process, this was strictly forbidden by our work contract--Expressly, we were not supposed to do ANY of their work.
    As I said, during the time that I was there, I had complained about all the negative things that were happening, managers responses changed from, "you should just be happy to make x number of dollars, to "if you don't like it here there are three exits".
    Because we were told by the managers that in our business, the HR department doesn't matter, I exercised all forms of verbal complaints. There was a write-up procedure for managers but for workers no such paperwork did exist. I was told that despite a clean HR file--immaculate none-the-less, my job was being reviewed and I may or may not have a job on monday...I took the option of quitting.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,393

    Default Re: How Do I Win an UC Appeal for Hostile Environment

    It sounds like a truly miserable place to work. However, whether the UI office will consider it grounds to quit and still receive benefits is something only they can say.

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