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Have I been fired? Pennsylvania

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  • Have I been fired? Pennsylvania

    I have worked for a small family owned company for about 11 years. In those 11 years I have been praised many times for my performance and was only reprimanded a couple of times in those 11 years for poor performance. Last week I was taken into a room with a co-worker (part of the family) by the owner and to make a long story short, I was told "It doesn't seem to be working out". What's not working out I said? "I feel as though you have a very negative attitude lately and it does'nt seem to be working out". Now keep in mind that I have been with this company for 11 years and have been a very reliable, hard-working employee. This was the first time anything was mentioned about my attitude. When I asked for specifics, the owner struggled to come up with any valid examples. I then asked if I was being fired? He said "I'm not saying that now but you need to make some major changes in your attitude if this is going to work out". Again i asked for specifics in attitude problems and got not much of anything. At this point I am fairly certain that there is a lot more to this than I am being told. None of this makes any sense to me and the owner has not made any sense of it for me. I asked again is this just leading up to me being "let go" I said? If it is I need to know I said. I have bills to pay and responsibilities to keep, and cannot afford to be unemployed. And I quote, "Well I think you should start looking for another job". So you are firing me i said? "No I didn't say that, you give it some thought over the weekend".

    My questions are:
    1) Have I been fired?
    2) Is the owner just trying to make me quit?
    3) Considering he told me to start looking for a new job, if i do leave am I entitled to unemployment compensation? Or does he specifically have to say "your fired"?

  • #2
    1. Not as of today, but the handwriting is on the wall. There is every likelihood, in my opinion, that you will be fired tomorrow
    2. I have no idea. I'm not inside his head.
    3. Although he does not have to use the exact words, "you're fired" before you can collect, whether you can or not in any given situation is going to depend on the exact circumstances and your state law.
    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.


    • #3
      While this is rather late and your circumstances may have worked themselves out one way or another, Pennsylvania UC precedent case law says that if an employee resigns to avoid an imminent discharge, the separation will be treated as a firing and eligibility determined under Section 402(e) - willful misconduct. An "attitude" in and of itself generally would not qualify as willful misconduct. However, the employer's language must contain the immediacy and finality of a firing. "Pick up your pay" or "There's the door" or "turn in your keys (or punch card or other employer items).

      Sounds like the language he used did not contain the immediacy required, so if you left, it would likely be construed as a voluntary quit under Section 402(b) and, from the sounds of it, there wasn't good cause to make you eligible for UC. An intention to quit may be inferred from your actions -- if you would make an unauthorized departure from work, for example, or continued absence without notice.


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