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Concerning written warnings, in Florida

by Gator
(Miami, Florida)

My wife has been an excellent employee for 3.5 years at a very large international company in Florida. Her performance reviews have all been excellent. She just received a written warning, stating things that are not true, about her attitude and performance etc. She has refused to sign this document, stating that it is not true. She also knows that people who sign these documents are usually terminated sooner rather than later. She feels they might as well terminate her now, rather than sign something that helps her boss get rid of her anyway. We believe the real issue is that her immediate boss wants to replace her with a friend, or someone she can control. HR has been no help, and seems to just want things to take their course. The national HR dept. says it is a local matter. Anyway, I strongly believe my wife will be eligible for unemployment benefits anyway. My question is, should she sign the warning letter?? I read one of your responses where you said the person should have signed the warning, but add a notation that it was false. In our case, I don't believe they will allow any notation or additional pages attached. Until I read your advice I felt the best thing to do is not sign the warning. Plus other higher ups are now becoming aware of this issue and may intercede. And, either way, if terminated, she can easily prove that she has been an excellent employee. Can she write, under duress next to her signature---though I doubt the benefit of this. In summary, should she sign the warning, which is fabrication to allow them to terminate her with cause. They probably feel there is a greater chance her being denied unemployment if she signs?? I don't know.

Thanks for the help.

PS: The company she works for is huge, but seems to have a totally unprofessional policy dealing with procedures pertaining to warnings and terminations etc. Is there anything else my wife can do to help herself? I hope you don't mind if I send in a donation upon reading your response. Please tell me if you think I need a 15 minute consultation. Thanks again.

Hi Gator,

Interesting. Somewhere on the written warning there should either small print that states that signing is not an admittance of agreement or it does not state it state it.

If it does say it's not an admittance, there may be a corresponding rule that states refusal to sign is considered insubordination and cause for immediate termination.

If it's not there, no ifs, ands, or buts, Counter document .. which
I strongly suggest irregardless. This is what employees fail to do and what makes their cases weak.

If it is a huge company, they have an employee handbook. It's funny, no one ever asks a question and mentions what the employers rules and procedures are .. why is that? They not only tell us what we better not do and what is expected of us, but they tell us what we can expect of the employer. Everyone needs to follow the rules .. not just the employees.

I refuse to believe that although they may not allow her to attach anything that this little obstacle can not be overcome.

If it were me, I would sign and note Please see the attached response of disagreement which I request be added to my personnel file. If they refuse I would either try pushing back a little and tell them that if they won't allow the response to be added "then I believe it would be in my best interest to first consult with an employment lawyer on this matter."

Or I might just get the appropriate parties addresses and send it certified mail and attach the receipt to my copy of the letter for later use.

I am also a big fan of using email to the appropriate parties .. even from home where you can easily save everything.

The truth is at an unemployment hearing .. they don't want to hear what an excellent employee you have been. They want to hear about the reason you were fired and if the employer had good cause for termination or if they did not. This is always the central issue that needs to be addressed ..

Being an excellent employee is peripheral.

Being and excellent employee can actually hurt you when fired for performance and attitude (which is just another way to say insubordinate, negligent, careless, disrespectful, etc). The logic is that if they were a good employee that the recent events that caused the termination were within the claimant's control and therefore a choice .. intentional.

The state wants to see proof of efforts made at the time things were happening. That's why they love written warnings, they appear to be truth about the situation.

If a hearing officer asking "If you thought this written warning was unfair and untruthful did you complain to someone with more authority?"

Yes your honor, I did. I would like to admit into evidence this document .....

Need to start preparing for getting benefits now .. while still employed.

I have a new motto around here ..

Document, document, document so you can prove good cause.

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