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Fired For A Rule Violation In California or was it retaliation or discrimation

by Pat
(Pacoima, CA, USA)

November 3, 2008

I have worked for over 28 years, 7 months. I was 17 months from working 30 years with the company and retiring. I was an excellent employee, always on time, no discipline problems, and no attendance problems. No write-ups. I have received many awards, awards for excellence and outstanding work. Giving the company excellent ideas, ideas to make our work duties more cost effective, saving the company money. But I also have had an underlying problem, that is, the company hiring and being fair to black people.

I am a black woman. I have been passed up so many time for promotions and decent raises. Every time there was an opening for a lead or supervision position, someone always of a different race with less seniority was given the position. I was more qualified. Most of those people who got the positions, I trained, and they had less seniority. I expressed my feelings with the supervisors awarding the positions. They did not know or refused to give me an answer, so I just moved on, what could I do.

But one thing I did do is speak up, over the years. I went to the personnel department and expressed my feelings, but no one wanted to hear the word discrimination.

I was called to a meeting about a month ago, in the meeting were a lot of upper management, plus Natalie from the personnel department. Natalie has never liked me because I spoke up.

In the meeting management asked me of any issues in my department. I spoke up and told them about some issues we were having concerning vacation and sick time. Natalie cut me off and said, Pat we can discuss that later. I told her I came to you, spoke with you, you brushed me off.

Now, for why I was fired. I was fired because I was accused of violating company policy by putting work related items in my locker, located on the company grounds. Everyone in the company has work related material in their locker. That is the truth, that you can check. I was singled out. I feel I was set-up. You ask, Why?

On October 8, I was called into personnel, present was Natalie and another person from personnel and my supervisor. Natalie told me I was being investigated for violating company policy. I asked her what policy did I violate? She said for keeping work related material in my locker, I told her everyone keeps work related material in their locker, the supervisors approve it. Natalie asked me what items do you keep in your locker? I told her tools and gloves, and items I use at my workstation everyday. She said you are not supposed to do that. I told her the supervisors gave me and other employees permission a lot of times to keep items in our lockers, because sometimes you cannot find a supervisor at the end of the shift to hand the materials to. Natalie then told me there would be a full investigation and the company has reached no conclusions at this time. She told me I would be placed on administrative leave with full pay and benefits. She said the investigation might take up to 10 days. I agreed with that and signed the paperwork. I was told to be near the phone in case they called. The next day, October 9, I was called and told to report back to personal at 1:30 pm. I told myself, that was a quick investigation, everything must have been cleared up. I go into personnel, Natalie tells me I have been terminated. I said what, why? Natalie said for violating company policy by keeping work material in your locker. I explained again to her why I kept the items in my locker. I asked her to talk with the supervisors. She said it was to late. She handed me the paperwork, I got up, Natalie walked with me to the exit.

She told me good luck with a big smile. I told her, this is not right, I don’t deserve being fired, a write up, time off, and I could accept
that. She smiled, I told her you got what you wanted didn’t you. She looked at me and gave me this big smile and walked away. 28 years 7 months, and I get fired for having tools in my locker. They could have given me a warning, some time off, but being fired, it hurts. Then I find out from other personnel on 1st shift that after I had been fired on October 9, That 3rd shift on Oct. 8th was telling everyone that I had been fired. Everyone knew before I knew. So I am asking myself what happened to the personal confidential investigation I was promised. Someone in that meeting on Oct. 8 gave out confidential personal information about me. Leaked it all over the company. What happened to the fair confidential investigation I was suppose to have?

I was already prejudged and found guilty before I walked into that meeting. Natalie got me. It was an excellent company to work for. But they have issues with race. They have a lot of Hispanics and Asian people, not very many Blacks, the company does not hire Blacks, so I was always the token. People there take a lot of crap from the supervisors, being forced to work overtime, being questioned when they need to take an earned vacation day off, or just calling in sick. I spoke up, I spoke up for everyone in our department.

I have worked for 28 years 7 months, paying into the system, paying my federal taxes, paying my state taxes; I have never filed a claim before. Now when I need help, I am denied. I ask myself everyday what did I do wrong. I always worked hard and followed the rules. My firing was personal and a vendetta.

I cry everyday about it. Why me, I ask myself. I hope you reconsider your decision. I need my claim, my family needs my claim. We will be on the streets if you don’t.



I am so very sorry to hear about your situation, but let's get one thing straight from the gitgo. This website is not affiliated with the State of California. I have no power to change the determination denying your unemployment benefits, but with that said...I do have some thoughts for you.

First of all, APPEAL!! the determination denying your claim for unemployment. You have 20 days from the mailing date of the determination. Go to this page at the EDD's website and follow the directions.

You stated that you had never received any other kind of discipline. What does the employer's company policy say about what you can expect? What is their PROGRESSIVE discipline policy? Did they follow it? If not, focus your appeal on that.

You also stated that what you were terminated for is common and practiced by a lot of people. Focus on that too, because policy cannot be arbitrarily enforced. It needs to be uniformly enforced. In other words, if you got fired for it, so should everyone else that violated the policy.

Did you threaten the employer with an EEO complaint? If so, mention that and while you're at it go to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See what they have to say about filing a complaint. You only have a limited amount of time to do this.

I also think you should consider contacting The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Never underestimate the value of an employment attorney, especially when it comes to a situation like yours.

Pat, I know it's hard not to cry, but your situation is not hopeless if you fight back, and I believe you should if everything you stated was accurate.

It is not unheard of for an employer to try to get rid of as many people as they can by terminating for cause before a layoff. It keeps their liability down.

By the way, I know you guys in California do pay for unemployment, but it is for temporary disability unemployment. When the job separation is due to quitting for cause or being terminated, the benefits come out of a different fund, which is paid into by employers only.


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