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Old 04-08-2014, 12:02 AM
 
9 posts, read 11,206 times
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Hello. I will try to be brief as possible. But I do need to add context. I worked for a large retailer for over 2 yrs in a call center. I was fired a few months ago. I applied for benefits and didn't hear anything for a couple of months. I called up the unemployment office and I was approved for benefits. I had been getting benefits now for over a month and a half. Then suddenly I get a letter saying I was disqualified for benefits due to misconduct. I did appeal and have my appeal set for next Thursday.

Now I will explain what happened. I had a customer on hold for 30 minutes. The customer asked for something that I know we wouldn't be able to do. She did hang up and call back and was not given what she asked for. My former company is saying that I kept her on hold just so she would hang up. Hanging up on a customer is a fireable offense with no warning. HR played back the call and it showed on the screen what I was doing. They had a chat feature and I did not chat with my lead about the situation. I have always maintained that I went over to my lead's desk to discuss the situation. Sometimes I would do that with more difficult scenarios when chat wouldn't just do. They apparently didn't believe me and I was fired. I gather they are saying this was misconduct because I knew the policy and that I willfully made the customer hang up. So I was hanging up on the customer.

I worked on one shift for over a year and a half. I had worked on this last shift for about 3 months. My numbers were mediocre to be honest. This company was all about numbers. I have heard from numerous people that my lead was looking to get rid of me. My numbers are part of his numbers. I know I probably can't bring that info up because it is hearsay and there is no way these employees would testify on my behalf for fear of losing their job.

I am a bit nervous about this whole scenario. I just have a bad feeling I will lose since this company is a billion dollar company. I have heard that they have a dept just to fight unemployment benefits.

I am curious how long this hearing will be. It is supposed to be a telephone hearing. On the hearing notice I got, it listed an out of state phone number for my former employer. Does that mean no one from where I worked in Florida will be on the line or that the out of state will be assisting?

More info. I was put on probation previously for bad scores. I wasn't on probation at the time of the firing. About 5 months before my firing, I got talked to about a call which lasted a long time. I am afraid they will say that I showed a pattern of doing this misconduct. I am just a bit nervous about the whole thing and need some guidance. My work was just mediocre, so I understand the firing in that regard. But I reject the notion of dragging my reputation through the mud to not pay unemployment. I honestly don't see how they can 100% say I was avoiding the call to cause the hang up.

Some other things. The call was on the 17th and I was called in on this on the 11th the next month. That just seems odd to me. Usually they get with you within 1-2 weeks of stuff like this happening. If you were so concerned with my performance and possibly me hanging up on customers during this 3 1/2 weeks, they should have come to me sooner. My thoughts are they were putting all their ducks in a row to get me fired and not pay unemployment benefits. That's my theory. As I said previously, my lead was trying to get me fired but I just have hearsay testimony on that.

This is a book. Sorry. I just want to be prepared. I want to tell my story and not get upset during the hearing.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:29 AM
 
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What did you tell FL UI when you applied?

UI can be a very forgiving system. If the policy as written is that you are not to hang up on a customer, then you did no such thing. Work with that at your hearing.

Just remember that you don't have to admit to anything. Let the employer tell their story as to why they fired you. Don't be afraid to ask questions, "just what is the 'hang up' policy?"

Also, don't let the employer testify as to the contents of any recorded call. You insist that they provide the actual recordings. Testifing as to their content is hearsay.

Do not bring up the "your boss wanted to fire you." Doesn't matter if the boss was looking for a reason. Once you gave them one that they thought could be "misconduct," then that's it.

Hopefully, you didn't already admit to this long hold time. By doing that, then the employer doesn't have to prove that it happened. Even still, leaving a customer on hold might not be misconduct as it relates to the "hang up" policy as written. It would be great if you could actually prove that you were getting guidance from your supervisor on how to handle the call, but it's not necessary. You can still testify to it, and if your supervisor isn't at the hearing to deny it, you just might be believed.

The judges want the employer to prove misconduct, and if you can give them a legit reason to say it was a one-time thing, or you didn't violate the policy as written, or they was no first-hand testimony that you actually did what was claimed, they will grant benefits.

Also, go view the evidence file prior to hearing so you know what you are dealing with. You do not want to go in there blind. Know that any "statements" where the writer is not present at the hearing can be object to because you can't crossexamine a piece of paper. That will keep it out of your hearing.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:53 AM
 
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There is no way to prove that I was talking to my lead during the call. Heck they can't prove that I wasn't talking to the lead either. I don't know how they will get around that. When I met with HR, I didn't admit anything. I just said what I probably was doing. It was 3 1/2 weeks after the call took place, so my memory of the call at the time was hazy. I figured that was their point. They wanted me not to remember any details.

So you suggest not saying anything about my lead looking to get rid of me. There were 4 leads on my "team" and they all reported to a manager. I don't think the manager was sorry to see me go either since the scores affected her as well. Not as much as my lead since he was responsible for less people and she was responsible for the whole team.

I will also say that the HR guy did not know all the screens that he was looking at during my call. I think that is a bit odd for someone of his position to not know these screens and be the sole judge on whether I would be fired or not. My manager and myself had to tell him what he was looking at. But here again is a case where it may not be good to put him down to prop myself up. My head is spinning. I just want this over with and so I don't have to worry about it anymore.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:28 AM
 
14,508 posts, read 29,152,096 times
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The length of time between the offense and when you were called on the carpet is a good question to ask at your hearing. "Why didn't you fire me that day instead of waiting 3-1/2 weeks?"

You need to say as little as possible. You only have to address things that amount to misconduct. You only have to address things that are proven to be true and only if they actually matter.

I asked what you told FL UI when you applied. I'm just hoping you didn't admit to anything already that can be used against you at the hearing.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:41 AM
 
9 posts, read 11,206 times
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When I first applied for unemployment, I did not admit to anything. I basically have said all along that I was trying to help the customer.

I do think the 3 1/2 weeks is strange. It should have been 1 or 2 weeks in my opinion. The lead/manager would not know about the call right away. They monitor all the calls, but only a few get "graded". That happens after a week or so. This one wasn't graded, so this tells me that I might have been monitored 24/7 so to speak. But that still does not explain the long time period. You would think that you wouldn't want an employee committing the ultimate sin (hanging up on a customer or equivalent of it) representing your company. But I just don't know. The telephone hearing will be interesting to say the least.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:53 AM
 
14,508 posts, read 29,152,096 times
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Also, remember that the employer can't even prove the caller was on hold without the recording, you admitting to it, or the caller that was actually on hold testifying to it.

When you learn what the burden of proof is, you can see why people that were discharged for disqualifying reasons might still very well get benefits. It's because the employer's don't always understand the process either or just figure it's not worth the trouble. There are also plenty of claimants willing to do the employer's job for them.

The reverse in a quit also applies. There are probably a lot of good cause quits but because the claimants don't get the proof before they walk out the door, they can't establish that what they said actually happened. The most obvious one is when the employer says, "quit or be fired," and the claimant gladly tenders a letter of resignation that is written more in hopes of getting a good reference rather than UI benefits. It's nearly impossible to prove that you had no choice when you quit when your letter of resignation says, "I'm so sorry my last day will be mm/dd/yy. I really enjoyed working here. . ."
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:39 AM
 
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Well of course the employer has the recording. They played it for me in all its glory. They can't prove what exactly I was doing all the time the customer was on hold. They know about some of it of course because it shows on the screen what I was doing with my mouse. But there was a period of time the mouse wasn't moving and I can say I was talking to my lead. It is basically my former employer saying I was screwing around not helping the customer or hoping the customer would hang up so I didn't have to deal with her. I am saying otherwise. I guess it will be up to the ref to who she believes. This company will probably throw everything on the table which worries me. If i was a betting man, I would probably bet that I am going to lose. But I have to have hope.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:01 PM
 
14,508 posts, read 29,152,096 times
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But they don't always bring the recordings to the hearing. Read your evidence submission requirements. In my state, the hassle of bringing in video or audio recordings was pretty steep. You had to bring the equipment necessary to play the media, and I can imagine most anyone would want to avoid it.

Last edited by Chyvan; 04-08-2014 at 12:11 PM..
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:54 PM
 
9 posts, read 11,206 times
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it's a telephone hearing. I gather the HR rep will be on the call and he'll have the call on his computer. I truly hope he doesn't play the whole phone call and I have to go through that again. Even with this recording as I said, they can't prove without a shadow of a doubt that I didn't get up and speak to my lead. Still think that is key. They are just assuming that I sat at my desk doing nothing and waiting for her to hang up.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:26 PM
 
14,508 posts, read 29,152,096 times
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The call recording can't be played at your hearing unless it is submitted as evidence. Since it's a telephone hearing, you have to be mailed the recording prior to the hearing so that you have the opportunity to review it.

There are procedural things that happen that give you hints as to what the employer will be working with. You have to not assume the employer will make a good case against you just because something exists. It only exists if it is presented at the hearing and in the proper way.
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