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  • Need advice on an appeal filed Massachusetts

    Hi everyone,

    I am hoping someone can advise me on my situation with my ex-employer, a financial services firm in the Boston area. I will try to be as detailed as possible but at the same time I do not want to overhwelm anyone.

    It all started about a year ago, I was told by my manager that my performance was lagging and that I needed to start taking steps to rectify it. At that time I believe I had taken steps to get better at my job, but when my annual review came along in January of 06, my manager basically gave me an ineffective rating, writing that I would need to make an immediate turnaround in my performance or I would be subject to a performance related warning.

    Once again, I tried to turn my performance around by getting involved in different projects and workflows which were relevant to my job and I thought I was making progress, but then in May I received the dreaded written critical warning which basically stated that I would be terminated at the end of the month if I did not make an immediate attempt to improve. I was increduluous when I read the written warning, so much so that I refused to sign it until I had a chance to respond. The response I wrote documented a detailed plan that I was putting myself on, spelling out exactly what I was going to do on a weekly basis to basically save my job. My boss reviewed my respons, agreed to my plan, and filed away the written warning which I did not sign(more on this later).

    About two weeks into this, my boss calls me in and basically says that the initiatives I was undertaking were not good enough to save my job. At this point, I knew that I would be out of a job at the end of May so rather than have myself get fired, I submitted my resignation and gave two weeks notice.

    Two days after I gave my notice, I had asked for the copy of my written warning from early May so I could keep it with my records. My boss then calls me into an office and rather than provide me with the document, she asks me to gather my personal belongings and leave immediately. I said fine and asked once again for that document. She said that I would have to contact HR in order to get it.

    So I left the office, called the HR rep a few hours later, and asked him for this document with my written response. The HR rep said he would mail it to me. As of this writing, after asking for it multiple times via email, I still have not received it.

    I then filed for unemployment benefits and about two weeks after the filing I got a call from a DETMA service representative asking for an explanation as to why I should be getting benefits when I basically quit my job. I explained my side of the story to her and she said that she would have to go back to my employer to verify my information. Two weeks later, I received my first unemployment check and I thought that I was eligible for benefits and would be getting a weekly check.

    Yesterday, I get an Appeal Notice in the mail. The service rep ruled in my favor but my old company is protesting my claim and there will be hearing upcoming to determine who is right.

    So here are my questions:

    1) At this hearing, should I have a lawyer present representing me?

    2) Why would my claim have been honored, and then appealed?

    I have always maintained that my company was looking for a reason to get rid of me, as my salary level is higher than my peers. One of the stated business goals for my company was to do everything possible to reduce costs. If they could somehow make it seem that my performance was a reason for letting me go, they could get rid of me and save money at the same time. I do know that a) my job was never replaced and b) the company had a layoff a couple of weeks after I left. Don't know if those facts mean anything, but I figured I would mention it.


    Any info you could provide would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  • #2
    1. Only you can and should make that decision, however IMHO it is always better to have legal representation than not. It can be done for a relatively inexpensive fee. Moreover, it is more likely than not that your former employer will be represented either by a consultant specializing in UC or an attorney.

    2. It happens all the time. The initial determination carries appeal rights and your employer has every right to appeal that determination, just as you would have had you been disqualified. The hearing is more formal (testiomony under oath before a Review Examiner) and provides a more comprehensive setting to present arguments and evidence.


    What did the Notice of Approved Claim state regarding why you were found eligible? In other words, did it state that you quit but with good cause attributable to the employer or did it state you were discharged?

    Also, you have the right to subpeona relevant materials, such as the warning and any prior evaluations. In addition, you have a right to examine your personnel file irrespective of the UC hearing. See the following link:

    http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/149-52c.htm

    I suggest you request a copy ASAP, then consider issuing subpoenas after the review of your personnel file.

    Comment


    • #3
      rjc, thanks for the advice.

      This story has a happy ending. I got a lawyer who immediately requested that my ex-company forward my entire HR file to his attention. A person at my old firm called and said it would take three to five weeks for them to comply. My lawyer deemed this unacceptable and demanded that they provide the file immediately as the hearing was scheduled for less than a week after he sent them a request for the HR file. Not sure what happened from there, but my ex employer decided to drop the appeal.

      Comment


      • #4
        You are welcome. I am happy to hear that the situation did end well for you.

        And it is a lesson learned, to wit, all lawyers do not necessarily the stereotype that has been so ingrained in our society, but are there to help and assist everyone, including the aggrieved individual.

        OK, I am off my soapbox ... and there I have known a few who fit exactly the stereotype.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hop back up there. So few people actually defend lawyers. I found that refreshing. I'm glad I checked over here today. Thanks for the afternoon boost.

          Phil
          This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (www.gordonllp.com).

          This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.

          Comment

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