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  • termination Alabama

    Backstory

    I was hired by a company in the restaurant industry. We agreed on a set wage and set jobs (part time meat cutter/side prep).

    I started not as side prep but main broil cook/meat cutter. I received 2 of the 4 days training mandated by the corporate side of the company for the broil and none for the meat cutting side. This was a month before Fathers Day which is a busy month for this national Steakhouse. Everything went well or so I thought up to the week after fathers day.

    Termination Week

    I slipped on the steps at my house and messed up my knee to the point that I couldn't hardly put pressure on it. I notified the GM, KM, and my assigned trainer what I had happened and that I had a doctors appointment at 3:15pm but that I was due in at 6pm. Well within the time frame that I was told you had to be in to call out for a shift which was 2hrs. I also stated that if I could come to work I still would. They told me to keep them notified. Went to the doctor and he said I shouldn't be on it all and wrote an excuse for work. I notified all 3 in a group text what the doctor said. I received a message from my trainer to call him. I called him and he proceeded to say that if I didn't come in doctors note or not I wouldn't have a job. I went to work showed the excuse to my trainer and of course the GM and KM were already gone for the day. I worked the shift and went home. This was Monday.

    Tuesday I was scheduled off.

    Wednesday I was schedule to work so I went in starting the meat room. Usually when you clock in you have to select what area you are working in. I never had a meat cutting button only broil the whole time working there. Spent several hours working and then I fell. It wasn't a bad fall I had some lexans I was carrying and they pretty much broke my fall but it did stress my knee more. I was going to continue to work and was even using a broom as a crutch to keep pressure of my knee. The KM said no that he would rather lose me for a few hours then forever. So I was sit home.

    Thursday The GM called me and said it was slow not to worry about coming in.

    Friday (Termination Day) I came into work and as soon as the GM saw me he said he needed to talk to me and I asked is it something bad and he said no to take a seat in one of the booths. So when he sit down he set about firing my to my dismay. Im going to type exactly what he said and my responses.

    GM - Things are not working at several of my people have came to me and told me you have been coming in to work drunk and on drugs. You have glazed eyes and slurred speech.

    Me - That isn't true and I will take a drug test immediately to prove it. (I have been sober for 2 years a fact I am proud of and did tell the GM about during the interview. This immediately got to me in ways I cant explain to you. If anybody on this board has gotten sober and then been accused of being messed up you know the feeling I felt)

    GM - Well that's not really the point. You have been performing to standards and its been a month now. You are taking to long in the meat room and slowing us down. Thursday you didn't even do hamburgers or chicken and Wednesday you only got the chicken done.

    Me - I haven't even been trained by a trainer in the meat room yet and everything I have learned on my own. The little bit of training I did receive was apparently faulty since I was told how to do our chicken 3 products 3 different ways by 3 different people. I also get pulled out to do stuff every time I am in the meat room. Just for example the other day I was scheduled from 1 -4 meat room 5 - 10 broil. I get there at 1 start working 1:30 I get pulled out by KM to give hour break to broil cook. 2:30 back in the meat room. 45 mins later I get pulled by KM to go to dish and help out because they were backed up. I spent 3 hrs in dish before I was pulled from there to broil the rest of the night. I didn't get back in the meatroom until after we had closed and shut down broil at which point the KM said not to worry just put everything up. As for Thursday you(GM) yourself called me and told me not to come in and yet your blaming me for not having stuff done on a day you told me not to come in.

    GM - (I'm guessing at this point has realized im not just not going to go quietly into the night) To be honest none of that matters. I don't feel like your a good fit for my place and that im not getting the bang for the buck rom you. You are a good guy but just not a good fit here.

    He then gets up and leaves. I have been in the food industry for quite a few years and know how places can do people so normally I would have just brushed this off and got another job which with my expertise and exp. is not hard. The thing is I have fought hard for my sobriety being a veteran suffering from ptsd and for him to accuse me of that in the beginning has lit my fuse. I have seen his KM snort cocaine and drink whiskey out of those little bottles while on the job even admitting he is a functional alcoholic. His FoH manager goes out to her car on breaks and smokes weed out her pipe and buys from the employees. Employees go out to their cars drink beers and smoke weed on breaks. I could go on and on besides if any of you have worked in the food industry you already know what im talking about when I say very few of them could pass a DT.

    The second thing is we agreed on a certain wage an hour and after I was fired and called HR I found out I was making .25 cents less. Usually I would have addressed the issue but the info to check my paystubs online wasn't given to me until I contacted HR personally after this happened.

    Is there anything I can do to get back at them. I have been told that it is illegal in the state of Alabama to force an employee to work if a doctor has excused him from work. I was also told that he isn't allowed to discuss or accuse me of being on drugs or drunk without sending me for a DT and that what he said and did is defamation of character. Im not sure what power I have but one thing I would love to accomplish is to somehow force the corporate office to drug test the whole restaurant without the GM being giving a heads up and being able to warn his people.

    I realize this is an extremely long post and I apologize but I felt if I didn't give the facts leading up to the day of termination I wouldn't get an accurate answer.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I'm sorry, you may or may not have gotten a raw deal but nothing illegal transpired and there is nothing you can do to "get back at them". File for unemployment, look for new work, and I hope your knee heals properly.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by cbg View Post
      I'm sorry, you may or may not have gotten a raw deal but nothing illegal transpired and there is nothing you can do to "get back at them". File for unemployment, look for new work, and I hope your knee heals properly.
      I read this off a labor law site and wanted to double check with other sources.

      Disability: Assuming your employer has at least 15 employees, they're covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. If your illness related to a covered disability, then your employer must grant a reasonable accommodation for your disability. A reasonable accommodation could include time off for a disability-related illness or treatment. EEOC explains that, "A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

      A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).

      A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).

      A person may be disabled if he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he or she does not have such an impairment)."

      So since my knee was hurt to the point that I couldn't stand on it and I was still forced to come to work even after my doctor wrote an excuse saying for me not to work that this might give me some leverage. I mean not being able to walk is clearly stated in the above section which I couldn't.

      Comment


      • #4
        It is by no means clear that your injury is covered under the ADA. However, even if for the sake of argument we assume that it is, it is your responsibility to request an accommodation - it is not your employer's responsibility to assume you need one. So did you request one? Keeping in mind that calling in is NOT the equivalent of requesting an accommodation.

        You are mistaken, by the way, about their being a law prohibiting an employer from requiring an employee to come to work if the doctor says otherwise, and the goal of the ADA is to have people working, not to have them off work.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

        Comment


        • #5
          No one can force you to go to work. You made a decision to work based on your desire to continue working.

          A company won't drug test an entire location based on the say so of a former employee (or even current employee). If the company uses drug tests, there should be a policy which dictates how one is given.

          From your description of your history, it sounds like that location would not have been a good place for you to work. No sense in being around all that temptation of drugs and alcohol. The good thing is unemployment is low and restaurants are always hiring. So you should be able to easily find a new position.

          Comment


          • #6
            While I don't like encouraging the "get back at them" mindset, there is the chance that by making you work, where you subsequently fell, they exacerbated your existing injury, and just turned it into a Worker's Comp situation.

            Comment


            • #7
              ^ I can promise you that this is going to be an uphill battle, especially if the employee waits until after he is fired to try and file a claim and he was not supposed to be working in the first place. Alabama is much different than the rest of the country when it comes to WC and appeals require use of the actual courts. At best, this would be medicals only since the employee was terminated and not losing wages due to the injury. Unless the fall at work caused a substantial worsening of the condition, filing the claim now is likely to cause more headaches for the IW than the employer; especially since it will mostly fall to the insurance company and not the employer directly.

              The rest is sadly not uncommon in the restaurant industry which is not known for either its sobriety nor its stellar management practices. While you personally might have been offended by the suggestion that you were using, your personal sensibilities being violated does not make the accusation nor the firing an illegal act. While ADA does require employers to grant reasonable accommodations for employees who have a disability which will last greater than 6 months, the onus is on the employee to request said accommodation. Leave is a possible accommodation but far from automatic. It is also not at all clear that your knee injury would qualify as a disability as most acute injuries would not. You just started in May so there was no obligation to provide leave, assuming the employer was large enough to fall under FMLA (50+ employees). Honestly, as unfair as it seems, you needing time off work for the injury was a perfectly legal reason to terminate you. The rest is meaningless.

              If you have it in writing that your wage was to be $X, and you were paid $Y, you can try to take it up with payroll and or file in small claims court. Your state also has no minimum wage law of its own and very weak enforcement of the few laws it does have. While you can file with the federal DOL, if you are making over federal minimum wage, a difference of 25 cents for a few weeks of work is going to be extremely low priority.
              I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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