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NY Not-For-Profit Firing unemployment paperwork question

by Rebecca
(Penn Yan, NY, USA)

I left a job in property management for the opportunity to work for a 32 employee not-for-profit I had routinely volunteered for. I was hired as Office Manager, Front Desk & Assistant to the Director.

I bet you can guess that it's hard to manage the front desk while filing and assisting the Director in her office. I was also verbally accosted in front of employees, parents of early childhood ed children, and people arriving for a supervised visit with their child in foster care. It came to the point where I was very nervous and lost a lot of confidence. I was routinely treated like the Director's spy regarding smoke breaks, an employee who flashed another employee etc. I requested that diabetes testing needles placed in the trash be put in containers as per the health dept. As I took trash out. When they were not after several months and requests, I stopped taking trash out.

Throughout my 1.5 years, I volunteered about 3 hrs per week doing childcare for parenting programs with my teen children. My eldest volunteered during a kiddie kamp all summer.

At one point after once again being shouted at for something that was later determined to be not my fault, (by my supervisor-the financial administrator in front of staff and clients) I said I was taking personal and walked out, took personal the next day as well. The behavior still continued. The director is very unorganized, and regularly becomes frustrated thinking she has asked me to do something or left something on my desk that she hasn't. I also struggled to do payroll call-in at the front desk in public.

This summer I had a trifecta, sudden emergency back surgery, my husband left, I went back to work too soon to pay bills and support my kids (court for support etc. took 2m and he left the day after surgery with no assistance), and I got shingles. I am 32 years old. So you can imagine I was a wreck.

The straw that got me fired? I'm not sure, but I was told it was a conversation regarding; the head of the Parent Education Program was arrested after an investigation found pot in her house and on her. I was not warned. It was on the news and in the paper. As OM and front desk, I felt I should have been given an idea, as I was unprepared for the parents and community response. An employee brought a paper in and in the common area they discussed the event. I made it very clear that I felt shocked that an employee that attends drug councilling and drug court with parents as an educator would behave like that. Another employee (who has an open cps case against her and works with children at our agency) stated that she smokes it and has it in her house. I said I would never take a chance of losing my children or my job for something like that, could not continue the conversation and went back to my desk.

I was never given an employee eval. I regularly was given kudo's at company meetings. I stayed late unpayed to help the Director before board meetings. I ended up doing two weeks of half days due to not recovering well from surgery. I took work home to finish it.

The day I was let go, was by an employee who has been my friend for many years. I have been doing
her college homework for her. I came in and started work, trying to do full day in a half as my work was never cut back. She asked me to her office, and said "things haven't been going well, apparently there was a discussion regarding 'the firing of the pot head' and "the director" has asked me to let you go." I was not allowed to go through my desk, nothing. I was humiliated. I have honestly killed myself for this agency, and put up with a lot of crap. I was told when I took the position, by the director, that the office was full of people who started trouble. I was told by a dear friend who was a teacher there, who is on the board of directors, that it was a bad idea to work there, but I believed in them.

I filed for unemployment and got a form that asks why I was let go. I don't really know, I felt that there were issues with grant money needed to pay me due to overhearing things. I also feel that my numb right leg and foot and the shooting nerve pain I have had, along with frequent bathroom breaks due to nerve damage that affected my bowel was an issue. I was 15 minutes late one morning because I had to pull over because of a cramp. I went in, made coffee and was waiting for my supervisor to get off her line so I could tell her why I was late, when I heard her on speaker complaining to another employee about me not being in on time.

Employees who knew my situation were very nice to me, they asked me to join their "divorcee" club. It was a very hard few months with my husband leaving me and our three kids 3 months after we bought our home... But I really feel that I was given an impossible work load. We also acquired another county, leaving my "back up" assistant too busy to help me.

They now have an ad in the paper for an employee who can "handle interruptions and distractions" lol! How can you do agency payroll on the phone with Paychex while handling a line of parents/clients or keeping an eye on a supervised visit going on in the room next to you, with a lady who knifed someone, her three kids, and a social worker, when you are responsible for making sure the boyfriend with the restraining order stays in the other room??? Oh, while answering phones.

I don't know what to put on the forms. I really really need unemployment and I think I have earned it. I am looking for another job, but there aren't many in my area and driving is tough for me now.

Thanks for your help,
OM with a bad back

Hi Rebecca,

Okay, you want to know what to put on the form that asks the reason for discharge.

All you can do is tell the truth. What the employer told you. Because things aren't going well. I'm not sure what a pot head employee has to do with you, but you write what the employer told you.

You'll have your chance to explain when the state calls for the interview. Which, by the way, you need to focus only on the things that will help you show you discharged without good cause.

Do not go on and on or you'll say something that could disqualify you.

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