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Contract Company says I Quit When I was Laid Off

by Lynn
(Portland, Oregon, US)

I live in Oregon and have been a Legal Assistant for the US Attorney's Office for just under a year. I am technically a government contractor though. On May 23rd I was called in and told that I was being laid off. I was shocked. 85% of the projects in my department were assigned to me and I was one of the few people that regularly showed up! They cited budget problems due to Trump.

I developed good friends and loved fighting for justice. After I was told this, went back to my office, called my contracting company contact and she did not answer. I left a voicemail and she never called me back. The US Attorney's Office said that I was laid off but they wanted to keep me around for a week to train someone new.

I walked around looking for a coworker to talk to - I was literally in shock. But no one was around. I then walked downstairs, met with some work friends and told them what happened and began crying uncontrollably. I was so incredibly sad and confused!

I then left, after having worked 7 hours, and since no one was around to ask if I could go home, I just left an hour early. This was common and accepted. There were no "set hours." I called in the next day, the 24th, using my PTO, and my supervisor approved it. I was an emotional wreck, completely depressed and shocked. My mind was still racing with all of my projects. I never thought that I would be someone who got laid off. The next day I called in again, and my contracting company contact told me that they didn't want me back and that I have been removed as of the 25th and my position terminated. They asked that I turn in my badge and remove my personal belongings.

Again, this was shocking. People call in to the federal government ALL THE TIME! Often on a sunny day in Portland, no one would be there. I had called in prior with no issues, and didn't anticipate any that day.

I started receiving unemployment benefits three weeks ago. Today, I got a call that my contracting company was saying that I had quit because I left early on the 23rd and called in on the 24th and 25th. The adjudicator asked for proof of approval of my early departure as well as my proof of my approval to use PTO on the 24th and 25th. I showed them my boss's texts on the 24th, but on the 25th I was told they didn't want me back and received the letter saying I was "removed."

I am shocked that they would say that I would quit. I was very invested and hard working. I gave the adjudicator the copy of the text and the letter, as well as previous texts where my boss said it was ok to stay
home via text to show this was common practice. Needless to say, I am seriously doubting humanity right now. Any advice?

Unemployment Benefits for Contract Employee .. Maybe Really a Temp Employee of Sorts

Hi Lynn,

"I am seriously doubting humanity right now."

Me too Lynn, but let's not dwell on that, or I might cry too.

Instead, let me see if If I can help you figure out how unemployment insurance benefits in Oregon, should work for a similar person laid off, but an employer responds .. quit their job. And under the same circumstances and terms and condition of their employment.

I suspect you're a temp employee.

Although I also wish I could say I felt shocked by what your employer told the UI department.. that wasn't what came flooding into mind while I read your account of how you lost your job. But, I also can't say what I'm assuming to be some pertinent terms and conditions of your employment through a contractor are correct.

First, you admit, you left early that day without permission. Whether that was a violation of your employer's rules sufficient to discharge you immediately without any warning.. I don't know, but I would think it would depend quite a lot on whether you were an exempt, or non-exempt hourly employee.

I also found it significant you mention the use of PTO and that you have proof you called off and was approved to be gone from work the next day. Aside from this emotional distress I might tell you it's not an automatic good reason for an employee to leave without permission .. if the employer rules require permission.

My point being it seems to me a discharge for cause, would just seem more apropos after a final text the next day telling you to get your things and not go back to that workplace anymore.

However, the issue for me is complicated by what I don't know and what I do, in that most contractors who supply other employers with, employees and their talents .. don't just have one client the may supply specialized talent to.

Having said this, and the fact you tell me you were a legal assistant at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland who loved fighting FOR justice, know your story literally prompted me into a long overdue edit of what I wrote for those needing to received unemployment benefits, if classified as a temporary type employee who works for a private contractor to the federal government providing the talent to do government's work, but for the employee perspective .. vs. watching the line-up of kid approved entertainment on CBS this morning.

I might add, your story made me wish I had more time to investigate into whether the current administration roll back of Obama era regs for OFCCP compliance might have any lingering affect on the UI benefit end of things.

Regards Chris,
a friendly, or blunt .. non-legal unemployment assistant

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Aug 05, 2017
Contract employee
by: Lynn

My contract was through October. I wasn't a "temp," but I was at-will.

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