Terminated for Gross Misconduct
After a staff meeting, I was told to stay behind and asked to meet in the legal person's office with the Interim HR director and HR Consultant in attendance. I was told there was an investigation pending and the legal person was very upset because of a text I sent to one of the people involved. I was not aware of the investigation or any details surrounding it. While texting the person involved two weeks ago, he mentioned he would probably no longer be with the company but could not give me details. When I asked if he got another job, he said no. I then assumed he wasn't meeting the company's expectations as the CFO or that he was disrespectful to one or more employees. I was aware of him unnecessarily yelling at a previous employee when things weren’t done his way. When I didn't see his car Friday afternoon and Monday morning, I assumed he was no longer there. Still having no idea about an investigation, I texted him on Monday that I didn't like the behavior of a couple of people in my office the previous Friday. I was questioned by the legal person in a very hostile way (yelling and making me feel uncomfortable) why I sent the text. She said he showed her the text. She informed me there was an investigation regarding him. I told her I wasn't aware of that or I would never have sent the text. When I was asked if there was ever any physical contact between the person being investigated and me, I explained there had been 2-3 incidents of physical contact within a period of a month (he briefly kissed me when I was assisting him with work in his office) late summer or early fall 2010 and texting. The third time he tried to kiss me I told him he needed to stop now. He never tried again but we continued texting back and forth because we had a friendly work relationship. I never felt threatened or treated differently in any way and there was never any further physical contact. When I was questioned about the prior physical contact, I was berated by the legal person for not reporting it. I explained I felt I handled it on my own and was satisfied that I handled it correctly. I returned to my desk visibly upset. When I met with the HR director and consultant later in the afternoon, the director apologized on legal person's behalf for the way she handled the situation. She said she had been under a lot of pressure and, unfortunately, she took it out on me. She then asked me several questions and wrote down my answers and had me sign the document. Because I was still shaken up by the whole confrontation, I didn't really have a clear head when I signed it. After going home and having a chance to calm down and collect my thoughts, I realized my answers could very easily be misconstrued.
The next day I was given the typed form to review and sign. I was told the written form had already been submitted to the board members of the company. I
asked if I could amend my answers and was told yes. The HR director typed the amended answers, printed out the form and said I could go over it at my desk in case I wanted to change anything on the document. I took it back to my desk and made additional changes and returned it to HR. I was also told they would need me to print out copies of my personal cell phone records.
The following Monday I was called to the HR office with the HR director, HR consultant and legal person in attendance. The HR director gave me the second amended document and asked me to read and sign it. Before I had a chance to read it, the legal person, once again, started yelling at me and became very hostile. Unfortunately, I was so upset I wasn't able to sign the amended document. I returned to my desk. I was then called in to the CEO's office and was told by the HR director I was terminated and would be escorted to my desk to clear out my personal items and escorted out of the building. I was offered a 30-day severance to return to the office in two days to train my replacement for a period of 1-3 days. After I was escorted out of the building, the HR director called my cell phone and left a voice message that she would email me the severance agreement to look over and to bring it in on Wednesday to train my replacement.
The following day I was emailed a schedule by the HR consultant for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and she wanted a confirmation that I would be there. I emailed her back that I didn't feel comfortable committing to coming in to train until I read the severance agreement and asked if it was still going to be emailed to me per the HR director's voicemail. She responded with, "Yes, as soon as I receive it." I never received the agreement and was told on Wednesday if I didn't come in that morning to read and sign the agreement it would be considered null and void and considered job abandonment. I explained I did not feel comfortable going in and reading the agreement at the office and asked to have them email it to me as was stated in the voicemail and follow-up email. After several emails back and forth asking to have the agreement emailed to me, I received a final email from the HR director stating I was terminated effective for gross misconduct and unemployment would be contested.
In my almost four years of employment with the company, I have received nothing but positive work reviews and have never received a negative comment or warning of any kind regarding any aspect of my job performance.
Interesting story that has left me with a whole lot of questions, but I'm not certain what if anything you want to know.
It would of been helpful to know which state we're talking about, as gross misconduct is a provisional and defined thing in UI laws which generally carries stiffer disqualifications.
Not all states have a special provision for gross misconduct.