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Can I collect unemployment if I have been fired for willful misconduct?

by NumbaOneNewb
(Portland Oregon)

I worked at a call center. They had came out with a policy I believe around 5/21/09 that anybody making derogatory comments or disrespectful comments about a customer would be terminated without any warnings. After coming back from serving Jury Duty on 6/2/09, I was fired on 6/4/09 for calling a customer "retarded" behind their back, which they said took place on 6/1/09. They also claimed that I was given a prior verbal warning when I supposedly called a customer a "douche bag" also behind their back when I was off the phone. They did not clarify the date that I said the word "douche bag".

Both these incidents they're stating took place while I was off the phone and because I "made" those comments, I was fired. Now working in a call center is tough but I handled that line of duty very well and wouldn't need to name call customers who are only calling in upset not at me but at the company. With 4 years of call center experience under my belt, the customers being irate wasn't anything new to me.

Anyways, I was wondering if someone out there might be able to let me know if I am approaching this in the correct manner. Being that it's a call center, there are employees that aren't able to deal with the stress and yelling upset customers who call in. My idea is to have the Lady who listens to all the phone calls in my department brought to the hearing as a witness. She is in control of Quality and grades 2 calls a day per person.

What I'm going to attempt to prove is that I was being targetted by the manager. Now there is more than 1 way you can be disrespectful to a customer outside of name calling behind their backs. The tone you use with them, being sarcastic, not listening to what they're saying, hanging up on the customer are all examples of how someone could be disrespectful, and this is live on a call with a customer. We are all human and nobody is perfect. As a customer service agent, especially one who isn't experienced or is new to the field can easily become disrespectful whether it be intentional or not.

This happens daily at my old work place. I still have friends there that tell me about the things they say to customers that would get anybody's blood boiling yet no course of actions were ever taken. Not to mention, my friends have also told me about them receiving failed evaluations for being rude with the customer or disconnecting the call prematurely (might as well consider that a hang up in the face) and nothing happened to them.

Now I'm also friends with this lady that is in control of Quality Assurance and she has told me out of everybody there that my customer service skills were exceeded everyone there. Do you think I have a good chance
of winning this if I go to show that this policy of theirs is being broken constantly and nothing is being done? Also would it be a waste of time for me to interview this witness with questions during the appeal as to how she would compare my customer service skills to everybody else there? Is there anything I'm missing that might be helpful?

I also have a feeling they're not going to show up to the appeal. I'm quite positive the CEO is going to try and avoid bringing attention to his company since his company already has a lot of complaints from customers accusing the company of being a scam. If you google the company name "LPC" or "lowpay" or "lowpaycard", you'll know what I mean.

One last thing I wanted to say. I was a manager there and dealt mainly with the highest level of irate customers that we had. I was the last person they spoke to. They could not speak to anybody else above me. Only me and 2 other managers shared the same responsibility however they were absolutely horrible and very rude to the customers. Now if you've been in this spot, you will agree with me on how tough this job is but I handled it well because I could differentiate the real reason why the customers were yelling. It wasn't at me, it was at the company. If they got way out of line, we ended up refunding their money back and they're happy.

Please provide me as much input as you can on my case. Thanks.

Hi MumbaOneNewb,

I have a question .. what is the difference in the rule that allows a person to be discharged for being rude to a customer vs. the rule that doesn't allow derogatory comments about customers .. once off the phone with them .. and what is the stated purpose for the rule.

I have questions period, because you want an answer to some questions that require a fair amount of detail.

You are seeking information which I do require a monetary reward for.

Willful misconduct is not negated by exemplary work performance in other areas .. so I have no idea if the quality assurance lady's testimony would help or not.

I'd be more interested in how, if your employer does show up, they will prove that you were fired for the final incident of a derogatory comment about a customer that occurred on 6/1 when you were supposedly still on jury duty (you can prove this .. right?) Who is it that supposedly gave the "verbal warning"? When? This would be a witness I would want at a hearing if I were helping the other side.

Simplify, and find the path of least resistance .. or run the risk of self disqualifying by talking yourself right of of unemployment benefits via excuses for the rule violation.

NumbaOneNewb, making sure you stay disqualified is the employer's burden .. not yours.

Chris, TheWannabeWebmaster.

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