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Was on Disability then Unemployment but put on Re-hire list for County

by J. Z.
(California Unemployment)

I worked as a Secretary II at a County job for 3 years before I went out on disability for my hips) I had always gotten along with my boss and I never got a bad review, he always said I was a dedicated hard worker that went above and beyond to get all my job duties

completed. Well after I went out on disability in Sept. 2010 that Dept. had more budget cuts and was even more short handed so after I was out for 3 months
they said they were letting me go for "medical job abandonment". But the Union Rep. convinced them to put me on the rehire list for 6 months so if a job came up in my field (the County stated I would be required to go back only in my job title as Secretary II) I'd be placed in that position. Well 6 months would have been in July 2011 and that's when I had my hip replacement surgery so the county said "Ok will give you a 3 month extension which will give you enough time to recover from surgery." so in October 2011 they said "We're going to place you as a Secretary II in a newly created position in the Probation Dept., we aren't sure when it will be open but we'll keep giving you extensions until it does.". So during the last 3 months I've been waiting for this job that I would've been making the same amount and same hours M-F 8-5. My Union Rep. called me Tuesday January 24th and said "I have good news and bad news. The Probation Dept. is $200,000 over budget and has decided not to hire anyone for that secretary II position you've been waiting 3 months for (they have a temp working there that they don't have to pay benefits on). The County is stating they won't give you anymore extensions on the rehire list. They are now saying you CAN be hired outside of your job title and they have 2 jobs available; one is a Records
Clerk I for the Sheriff's Office which pays $5 less an hr. and you'd be required to work 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. 3 - 12 HR. shifts Sunday thru Tuesday and every other Saturday. The other job is a Temporary position for 2 months working as an Admin. Asst. to the Director in Social Services but the pay is comparable to your Secretary II job title. So this entire time they've been telling me "You HAVE to be rehired in the same job title as when you left the county and 1 week before my time on the rehire list expires (1/31/12) they tell me "Oh sorry, that job you've been waiting for, for 3 months isn't going to happen....but we're gonna do you a huge favor and let you pick one of these other two jobs.". The other thing is they just hired AND PROMOTED a girl to Secretary II from a different Dept. to take my old job when by their own policy they should have offered that job to me and they didn't. So my Union
Rep. says I could file a grievance against them. I'm 56 yrs. old and all my life have only worked m-f 8-5 jobs (medical receptionist, secretary)can I refuse a job that requires 12 hr.
graveyard shifts? I don't think I could physically handle it. I've never worked in a Sheriff's Office the job duties are different from what I normally do. If I take the Temporary 2 month job I will be unemployed again in two months and since I haven't worked since 9/16/10 will only have 2 months of income to base my new unemployment benefits on which won't be enough to live on. I feel like this is a clear case of discrimination because of my previous disability and my age. They are definitely trying to get rid of me. What are my options?

Response To: Was on Disability then Unemployment but put on Re-hire list for County

Hi J. Z.

I know told me you collected unemployment, but I've assumed you mean CA temporary unemployment benefits while on the FML. CA is only one of six or seven states that mandate some type of wage replacement be available during an FML.

But, if you did not .. you should have filed a claim for regular unemployment the moment you were able and available for any kind of work and they opted to put you on an extended leave or a rehire list. That would be a valid lack of work claim if you ask me because it was the employer not able to offer you any kind of work as they were restricting you to your last classification at that time.

But since it doesn't sound like you did file .. here's what I would consider now if I were in the same situation (and I have been) .. minus the union aspect.

What happens if I refuse either of the jobs being offered and I go ahead and file for unemployment? Will I have good cause to refuse each of the offers of work because it is only what the CA unemployment laws .. and case law says can make an the offer unsuitable and therefore give you good cause to refuse.

The Clerk I for the sheriff may be unsuitable merely due to the five dollars less p.h., but that I think is dependent on what you made before.

However, it is refusing the temporary job that would be of most concern to me because the differences may be splitting hairs. (More about the dangers of accepting unsuitable work)

Also, with only two months of wages .. you need to consider if you'll even qualify to get any benefits.

The CA monetary qualifying formula will very likely be your problem with getting unemployment.

Now onto age discrimination. Maybe. I'm not positive, but I think if you choose to go through CA's mediation process you may have to agree that whatever the outcome .. it is binding.

All I know for certain is that it's not going to hurt to learn more about the basic issues of discrimination at the EEOC.

And please accept my empathy. I know your employer has succeeded at putting you between a rock and hard place .. but I think it's time to play the same type of hardball game.

Contact an employment attorney .. just so you don't have to rely only on what your union rep tells you. If I'm not mistaken .. they move within the confines of the contract .. lawyer have the whole of the laws at their disposal to play with.

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Jan 29, 2012
Was on Disability then Unemployment but put on Re-hire list for County
by: Jeannine Z.

Thank you for your prompt reply Chris. I did file for unemployment Sept. 2011 when my temporary disability benefits ran out. I've been on the re-hire list with the County since Feb. 2011 just waiting to have my surgery and recover enough to go back to work. I did contact one attorney and he said he doesn't handle government agency cases, he said I'll have a hard time finding someone that will. At this point I will just proceed with the threat that if they don't leave me on the rehire list until a comparable DAY job comes up (this isn't really even about the pay so much as the fact they aren't giving me job choices that are FT PERMANENT M-F 8-5 just as I was working before the whole thing started), I will file a grievance against them for not offering my old job back when it became available again as they should have done according to their own policies. I've already sent an email to the Union Rep. to let him know my decision and I'll be calling him first thing tomorrow morning. I'll keep you posted on the outcome!

You do that Jeannine. Due to personal experience .. I have a real bone to pick on this account of what employers do to long term and very good employees .. when they get sick. Trust me .. it's the age thing they can never admit. They fear future inconvenience and that once you have one medical problem that takes you out .. there will be another.

Even though older Americans may have tons of experience under their belt .. it's the inconvenience of our increasing age and let us not forget, the additional cost for that experience that makes them feel justified to push us out into the cold world of being unemployed or a future of only "temporary" employment without the bennies.

Bottom line .. it's cost effective and nothing to do with the quality of the job the person has performed in all their years.

However, even knowing why it might make sense to an entity .. does nothing to make it annoy the hell out of me any less.

Much luck with this Jeannine.

You'll be in my thoughts.


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