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Unemployment Appeal Hearing

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KMaley

New member
State: Florida

Hello everyone! I am brand new to this site, but it came highly recommended by my mother who is an active participant on these threads. I will provide the details of my situation below, and appreciate any advice on the areas of my situation that I should focus on/avoid leading into my upcoming unemployment appeal hearing.

My most recent job ended in termination on 1/28/19, and I am currently appealing the decision to disqualify me from unemployment benefits. The reason stated was such: THE CLAIMANT WAS DISCHARGED FOR FAILING OR REFUSING TO ADHERE TO A KNOWN COMPANY POLICY REGARDING FALSIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS. THE CLAIMANT'S ACTIONS CONSTITUTE MISCONDUCT. Here is some context:

My role was retail-based, and sales performance was an important factor towards our ability to be promoted. Leading up to my termination, I was consistently being told by my direct supervisors, as well as our corporate leadership, that my performance was exceptional and that a promotion was right around the corner for me. I greatly enjoyed my work, and often volunteered for extra shifts and recruited others to work for the company.

However, after a random audit of my branch's performance, the Risk Management team supposedly found several sales that were documented under my employee credentials that had utilized unethical sales techniques. I do not admit to using these techniques, as I did not even know that the techniques were possible at the time of sale (the techniques involved advanced applications of discounts and special rates that perfectly matched with the prices of added-on optional products, leaving the overall total unchanged). I denied any knowledge of these sales in my termination meeting, but was told that since the sales were made under my credentials, I am responsible for them. But, sharing of employee credentials is a common, every day occurrence in the company. With most of our sales being completed on mobile tablets that were unlabeled, it was quite common for me to complete a sale using a colleague's tablet (for which they would get credit for the sale) and vice-versa.

I received no written or verbal warnings leading up to my termination. Following the branch audit, I was suspended for several days while an investigation took place, but at no point was told that my position was in jeopardy or instructions on how to correct my actions moving forward.

How can I best present my situation during my appeals hearing? I am willing to admit to exercising bad judgement regarding the sharing of our tablets, but I do not believe that I was the one using these techniques.

Thank you in advance for any insight, and please let me know if there is any additional information that I can provide to assist in understanding the situation.
 


PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
You need to center on the issue that it was common practice to use other's tablets and credentials. If you don't sell that your disqualification will be upheld. Witness, coworkers that will say that it was common practice is what you need if the employer won't admit to it.
 

Shadowbunny

Queen of the Not-Rights
I do not admit to using these techniques, as I did not even know that the techniques were possible at the time of sale (the techniques involved advanced applications of discounts and special rates that perfectly matched with the prices of added-on optional products, leaving the overall total unchanged).
I am willing to admit to exercising bad judgement regarding the sharing of our tablets, but I do not believe that I was the one using these techniques.
I find it interesting that you say you "do not admit" to doing these "advanced applications", but then you say you "do not believe" you were using these techniques.

If these techniques were THAT advanced, wouldn't you KNOW that you didn't use them? If I, a disinterested party, find your story to be disingenuous I'm not surprised your employer didn't believe you either.

As to your appeal hearing, all you can do is tell the truth. However, leave out the parts about how good of an employee you were, promotion around the corner, blah, blah, blah. That is not going to impress the UI folks and will have no bearing on the hearing. As PayrollHRGuy says, your only chance is to convince them that using others' tablets was commonplace. However, I wouldn't count on any of your former coworkers being witnesses for your side (if they're still employed at the same place) as that could endanger their employment.
 

Chyvan

Member
Your employer's job at the hearing is to prove by a preponderance of the admissible evidence that YOU did it.

But, sharing of employee credentials is a common, every day occurrence in the company.
Do NOT let hearsay go unchallenged. Your employer better bring good documentation to prove what you did, and that it could have only been YOU. Look at the paperwork carefully. A time or a date could be on a day when you weren't working or at lunch, and then boom, you just proved that someone was using your ID.

You're allowed to object to the admission of records if they look fishy. You're allowed to object to the employer describing the contents of a document without submitting the original document.

You should get copies of all documents before the hearing so you can match them to your records or time sheet copies to see if you can find a mismatch.

Could be giving those discounts was perfectly OK, so if there is no policy prohibiting it that the employer submitted as evidence (you don't want the employer just saying that there was a policy on the fly. You want to see it in writing, and showing that you received it, and therefore knew about it), then you can go the route that you broke no rule that you couldn't have possibly known about in the event that the judge doesn't believe that someone else was using your ID.

I do not believe that I was the one using these techniques.
You can't say this. You can't say, "I didn't do it," and then "maybe I did by accident." If you didn't do it, then you didn't do it, and you look in the evidence to show that it wasn't you.

Hopefully, your employer doesn't even show to the hearing, sends the wrong person, or no documents, and it will make life so much easier because it doesn't sound like you admitted to anything.
 
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KMaley

New member
Thank you all for your thoughtful suggestions. I will be certain to be much clearer in my hearing that I did not conduct the actions for which I was terminated. My seeming lack of confidence in that before (regarding the "I believe" statement) is simply due to the seemingly high level of confidence from my employer that I was engaged in such techniques and deserve to be fired for them. It definitely shook me up a bit to have a company that I loved turn on me so quickly.

I will be certain to focus my attention on emphasizing the frequency of shared credentials. Unfortunately, I have little access to witnesses or evidence, as most of my former coworkers have been relocated, all potentially relevant correspondence was through a company email, and all the allegedly falsified documents are withheld by the company.

I'll do my best to find any evidence that I may have, but I am curious how evidence related to a case like this would be utilized during a phone hearing. Should I expect the officer to simply refer to a scanned document and for those of us on the call to follow along?
 

PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
If you have written evidence that everybody shares logins and tablets show it. The employer can try to impeach the evidence.

You best evidence will be other employees that do the same thing. But be prepared for the employer to pop up with a document saying that in itself is misconduct.
 

commentator

Senior Member
And your personal testimony that other employees did the log in sharing is about all you are going to have, and really, all you need to try to get. If you have any hard documentation that other employees were using your tablets, for example, your tablet having been used during a time when you were not there, that would be wonderful. You tell the appeals section what you have in terms of documentation, and they'll tell you what to do with it.

But don't worry about the employer now accusing you of another kind of misconduct for sharing tablets, as that would be changing the reason that you were terminated, which was specifically that YOU were using these advanced techniques to illegally improve the profits or sales records. If they try to do that, the hearing officer will likely be quick to stop that rabbit trail.
 

PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
I'm not sure about Florida but in a number of states, the appeal process can override with a different reason for disqualification.
 

commentator

Senior Member
Florida being a southeastern state I can pretty much say with authority that they won't with any likelihood allow the original claim decision based on whatever reason for termination to be affected just because the claimant admits to having done something else bad or broken another company rule during the hearing. They might certainly find a different reason, such as availability, for disqualification during the hearing. Once the employer has settled on a reason for having terminated you, they're pretty much left with defending that reason throughout the hearing process.
 
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