Unbelievable work expectations in VA
(Virginia Unemployment Benefits)
Hi, I am in a relatively new job that has become untenable. I left a paying job 35 miles away from me to move close to home and to do work that was in my field of interest. However, the job has not been what I felt was presented at the interview.
I was hired as a legal assistant for, I was told, two attorneys, with the possibility of having to do some work every now and then for a third. However, since the day I started, I have been working for four, and they're planning on hiring a fifth. Not only that, a long-term legal assistant is really struggling to keep up (though he has experience that I lack), and a seasoned paralegal left the week after I started and has not been replaced. These changes all occurred between the time I was hired and the day I started, but I've been telling them that this creates an extenuating circumstance that should allow me a greater learning curve as more is being placed upon me than anybody knew.
I told them at my interview that I had no experience in the type of law they practice, and I asked them at that time if that would be a problem. I was told it would not. But since I started the job just shy of three months ago, I haven’t been able to get any training, had not been provided with a list of expectations or job duties, nor have they provided me with attainable milestones that I can work towards. Additionally, though I am used to a lot of work, the work load is insane, yet they warn me that right now is SLOW! Just today, about 10 days shy of being there three months, I finally got the list of expectations and job duties -- two pages' worth -- but this was prompted by a meeting where I can see the writing on the wall. They are now backtracking on what they told me at the interview, and the heavier workload is attributed to "things change, and sometimes quickly." The problem is, I would never have taken a job that would have been so out of my league, especially since I had a job already.
I have been given the weekend to think over their list and decide if I can handle the work. I don't know that I can, especially since they will not help train me in what they want done. After the meeting today, I asked all involved (the attorneys and HR) to provide me with some goals I can strive to meet. All I was told was to learn how to prioritize when given tasks by more than one attorney (something
I already do and is not a production goal). However, from what I seem to read from your other comments, if I quit for those reasons, it may not be good enough cause to allow me to qualify for UI benefits. Do I wait for them to fire me or give me the "quit or be fired" option? I don't see this working out. I have not officially been written up or given any warnings other than today when they said they expect me to do all the tasks (though not limited to same) provided in their list.
I have recently documented all of these issues and sent them to HR, along with specific names, comments, and situations. Far from helping, I am sure this will cause tension as they see that I am starting to cover my bases.
So, my question is, what do I do? Go in on Monday and say I can do the job when I know I can't meet their expectations and wait for them to fire me, or do I go in on Monday and say I am incapable of taking on such a tremendous workload since they will provide me no training no matter how much I ask for it?
Chris's Response: Unbelievable work expectations in VA
It seems clear to me that they are formally trying to document a change to the terms and "conditions" of employment that were presented verbally at the time you accepted the job.
A blanket acceptance of the new terms wouldn't be good for you. Neither would quitting be my first choice.
I wouldn't quit, because if an employer really wants to lose me as an employee I'd always choose forcing the burden on them.
I'd document my position (likely focusing on what I perceive to be my inabilities .. request training and/or goals again and make sure to include a little history regarding the original terms and conditions of hire for comparative use later.
Training seems vital to your success and that they initially claimed your lack of experience in their type of law was not a problem, seems to me training would of been discussed or at the very least, a natural assumption made by you. Keep asking as when/if they terminate you for performance .. it supports the need for inability vs. negligent performance or .. you telling them Monday you think you can do the job as outlined on two pages.
If you quit now, you would have to be able to prove how the employer managed to basically, make the job "unsuitable work" for you by changing the conditions and not trying to accommodate any of the needs you feels you have to perform the changed duties. VA Precedent Manual