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Fired for attendance in WI, Conflict between HR's policy and direct supervisor's expectations

by Andy
(Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits)

Inside telesales, b2b. I live in wisconsin and I am wondering if I have a good case for receiving unemployment, here is my situation:

I was hired as a salary employee making 36000/annually. After one year the company announced that my position's pay structure was changing to 100% commissions with a draw of 40 hours paid on the last day of the month at a rate of minimum wage, then deducted from the commission check on the 15th.

When the change happened, I went up to my HR managers office and asked him the following question: NOW THAT I AM BEING PAID strictly commission, why do I have to keep punching a time clock? MY HR MANAGER THEN TOLD ME "your time clock punches are strictly for record keeping and no longer matter as long as you get 39 hours in each week.

This is when my attendance issues started. Although I continued to get in my required hours each week, I frequently starting showing up late to work one day and my supervisor brought me into his office and yelled at me for being late. I responded by telling him that HR said my hours "didn't matter anymore" and he interrupted me angrily and said that hr has "nothing to do with it"

I remained confused and upset about this "conflict" between TWO superiors, but I didn't take the issue any further out of fear of retaliation from my supervisor. I made a GREAT EFFORT to research (on my own) the WI labor laws that dealt with this issue but I could not find anything anywhere.

I was eventually fired for tardiness and I just applied to receive unemployment, but I received a letter that I have a "pending issue" that I will be contacted about soon, so I anticipate a call soon from UI and I am wondering if anything about his situation will qualify or disqualify me from receiving benefits.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my question.

Hi Andy,

Here's the problem as I see it.

First, you relied upon a verbal exchange of a change to the attendance policy from HR with regard to the substantial change the emmployer made to the terms and conditions of the employment.

Document, document, document .. otherwise you can't prove a conversation happened. As the saying goes .. it if isn't written down .. did it happen? I relate this to that tree in the forest riddle.

It's why I tell people to do what I personally did every time a manager "spoke" a change to the procedures I had to follow to perform my job. I always followed up with an email confirming my understanding of the conversation was in fact correct and cc'd any relevant authority as well.
Additionally, if I had concerns about the plausibility of implementing the change into action .. I would raise my concerns at the same time and ask for guidance as to the particulars they expected.

Secondly, I would have had alarm bells going off if the HR person told me it was for record keeping only. The HR person verbally altered the rules because of a change to the conditions of hire. And the changes absolutely had the potential to become good cause to voluntarily quit if you could have proved the change was substantial enough to make the work now unsuitable to YOU .. based on the criteria for that unemployment issue. (Proving a change such as huge reduction in pay takes a bit of time to gather comparison data, however .. wait too long and you appear to have accepted the change which now lowers the bar on what is considered suitable work for you.

The 40 hours at minimum wage, basically had to be done if they wanted to keep you categorized as an employee. Employees must follow the employer's rules. That's reasonable to expect.

I believe the draw of minimum wage was to stay in compliance with the FLSA which is overseen by the Wage and Hour Division at the USDOL.

So, whatever that HR person told you .. doesn't count unless they also notified all employees with a memo about the attendance policy change or you can prove or convince the UI dept. of the communication.

But they like this kind of stuff backed up with documentation .. in fact that's is exactly what UI depts. want .. documentation to prove what someone tells them is actually the truth .. this includes employers.

This means the employer can ignore their own progressive discipline policy which is almost always a three step process for attendance, but it will inherently weaken their ability to prove misconduct to the department.

Had they followed their own attendance and progressive policies when they discharged you?

Even though I've brought up issues that might of led to you quitting with good cause. You were fired for attendance .. and you've also limited the scope of your rebuttal to only what the HR person told you about expectations.

I don't think that's enough as far as you should be concerned .. because employers usually don't admit fault because of their own miscommunication and you didn't mention having any documented proof they did so.

So, if it were me .. I'd now be checking to make certain that my discharge was in compliance with the attendance and progressive discipline policies first .. because it is the employers burden to prove misconduct was committed per the employers guidelines they have made all employees aware of and should enforce uniformly.


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