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time card manipulation - A discussion about pinpointing what you need to focus on at an unemployment hearing.

by Anonymous

My boss informed me that he believed I was manipulating my time card to be paid for extra hours I did not work.

The truth of the matter was that I was not taking a lunch break and expected that I would be paid for that time. At the end of the day, the computer would ask if I had taken a lunch. I always answered yes and input 30 minutes. By doing so, the computer showed an "M" for manual entry. Most entries didn't show any prefixes, so someone reading the time card would know that the punch in or punch out was at that actual time of occurence. However, with the prefix "M" you would know that the punch had been created after the actual event. I think this is significant because it shows exactly 30 minute breaks at an exact time every day with a prefix of "M" which would indicate that I didn't take a break, but I input a break time later in the day. Then at the end of the week, I would add 30 minutes to the end of each day worked. By doing this, it appeared that I had taken a lunch around the middle of the day, but my time card reflected that I left 30 minutes later than I actually left each day to account for the time I had worked. In this way, I would be paid for the time I worked through my lunch.

I have several co-workers at other stores that have managed their time in the same way. In fact, my old manager use to do the same thing for me. Several co-workers can even attest to the fact that I did not take a lunch.

My downfall, however, is that I used the managers' password to accomplish all this. So it looks as if I'm sneaking around, rather than taking the correct action of confronting the matter. Lesson learned, I should have confronted the matter rather than trying to fix it on my own. Unfortunately, I had no confidence my boss was going to help me. My lesson from the company was that they asked to garnish my wages for those 30 minute breaks over the last 6 months or they were going to call the cops. I didn't want to risk going to jail, even if I was in the right, so I agreed in hopes that I could get the wages back.

I truly believe that the company is looking to make cuts in its operating expenses, and this was a way to justify removing a position in order to reduce payroll. However, I truly believe that if I have worked an amount of time, I should be paid for that time.

By the way, I have never been written up or given any warnings. I
was under the impression that an employer needed to have 3 warnings before a person could be fired. I can see how in some instances like this one that it may be imperative to fire someone immediately. Do you have an answer to this?

J. Unemployed

Hi J.

If you've read even a small amount of what I've written you will notice I use the word "focus" a LOT.

This is mainly because whether a claimant quits or an employer fires someone, the state unemployment department is ultimately the "neutral" third party that has to decide whether you lost your job through no fault of your own.

They need to determine the "proximate" reason the separation ended. They of course do consider extraneous events and circumstances and apply reasoning.

I completely understand where you are coming from. We should all expect to be paid for the hours we work, but when there is a problem we also need to try to resolve the problem while still adhering to the employer's rules .. especially if we want to protect ourselves in case of unforseen events.

I'm a little confused because you didn't say whether you were still working for this employer or if they terminated you at the end of the six months, so for the sake of this argument I'm going to assume you were fired.

Your situation is not unique. Many people feel compelled to work more hours than they are paid for, but most would not be willing to fudge their timecard to get paid for those hours .. at least not without a manager's approval .. and definitely not by using the manager's password. This fact alone tells me what you were doing is probably a terminating offense. There's probably a rule that says manual entries must be made by a manager. This is misconduct irregardless of the hour situation.

The state will ask them self .. Would a reasonable know their action might jeopardize their job? Yes, of course.

And because you chose to have your wages garnished rather than have the cops called .. I'm betting the employer had you sign a piece of paper, which is known as a "signed admission".

Some states actually have special provisions for "gross misconduct". The disqualifications are bigger and more severe if gross misconduct is proven. Some provisions will disqualify a person from unemployment benefits even if they have a qualifying separation from a job ie., a layoff, withing the next 5 years.

If you choose to fight a denial of benefits over an issue like this .. you would be off your rocker to go it alone. You need an employment attorney on your side, if you can find one to take the case. They MAY be able to work their magic by proving the unpaid wage issue.

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