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starting school and cutting back my work hours? - New York

by P.O.
(Cheektowaga, Ny)

I started going to school full time to get out of a dead-end collections job that I have been working at since December. I came to my boss 2 months before I decided to start school to inform him of my decision and to let him know my hours would be changing. He said everything was fine - and to come see him a week before I started school to talk about my scheduling changes. I came to him last Monday and let him know I'd be able to work 3-4 days a week, 4 hours a day, we aren't open on Friday's, so that's not a day I can work. Everything was set, he said that was fine - he wondered if I would still be able to "hit my number" or collect as much as I had been on full-time. I told him I don't see why not, just because my hours are shorter doesn't mean I can't do the same amount of work. I let him know if in a few weeks I wasn't able to make my goal, that he could drop me down to a point-caller, basically taking my whole opportunity of reaching a bonus out of the question. I was only making $9.00/hour so it wasn't the best job, but I was doing what I needed to do. I didn't ask for more pay or anything else, just that my schedule be fixed and fine. Everything was great - I had a few days off after I talked to my boss, started school the following Monday. I'm going to school from 930am-445pm and then have to beat rush hour traffic to be to work by 5pm and stay there until 9pm. I have a 14 month old son and a 5 year old daughter - that's not the easiest thing to do - as well as child-care. But I realized that I knew what needed to be done and I thought I was doing everything in my power to keep my job and still go to school. I don't work on Wednesdays due to child-care issues, so this past Wednesday I was absent from work. When I got out of school on Thursday - I had a voicemail and a text from my boss, and also a voicemail from a co-worker/friend. The VM from my

co-worker stated that "I don't know what's going on or what happened but 'boss' packed up all of your stuff and told me to give it to you. Call me as soon as you get this." I called her back and she stated that my boss had packed all of my personal belongings from my desk up and told her to give them to me. I then called my boss and asked what was going on. He stated "I don't know if you've talked to 'co-worker' or anyone today but we're deciding to let you go." I questioned him as to why he would be terminating me. His reply was "You aren't here enough to be hitting your goal so we'll have to let you go." ---- Does this make sense? Why did I get fired for agreeing on a set schedule with my boss, as well as making him well aware of the situation and that I wasn't going to be working full-time anymore, and that I was busting my a$$ just to make a few extra dollars while going to school. Meanwhile - still putting everything into my work and missing seeing my kids another 4 hours out of the day as well... My question now is - number 1: Is it legal for him to pack all of my personal belongings up in front of everyone? Number 2: Is it legal for him to fire me over the phone, let alone obviously let other people in the office know about it so blatantly? Number 3: What are my chances of getting unemployment? It doesn't seem like he has grounds to stand on when it comes to terminating me.

Hi P.O.

Ya .. it's legal even if how he did it was crappy. You were employed in "at will" employment .. just like most everyone.

Here the problem I see for you as far as unemployment benefits.

You could probably win on the "merits" ie., whether or not you were fired for good cause or "misconduct". But you won't get the benefits because you are not able and available for full-time work.

This is a requirement in order to collect unemployment. Take a look at Table 5-12 under Nonmonetary Eligibility You'll notice New York thinks attending school is a personal non-compelling reason and they disqualify you.



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