Yeah, but this one is righteous! I’m going to help my daughter fight her ex-employer.
She worked at a medical practice for 14 months. They fired her. Why? Ah, there’s the issue!
Their version: she was fired for misconduct. She made a statement in front of a patient that could have given a negative impression of the medical practice. After a stern verbal warning about this, she was overheard almost immediately making another negative comment to a different patient.
Her version: she asked the doctor, with the patient present, if the next follow up appointment could be delayed beyond when the doctor was requesting as the week in question was already very full. She was told no. The office manager overheard this exchange and immediately took her aside to tell her the question was inappropriate as it implied to the patient that the practice was too busy. She apologized, but pointed out that the question would have been asked at checkout anyway. Nevertheless, she accepted the warning.
Some time later she had prepped a different patient (a baby) for the doctor after being told that the doctor would be in to see the baby next. She made small talk with the baby’s parents. (No pun intended there.) Some time passed and the parents were becoming anxious. My daughter went to check, saw the doctor approaching and said to the parents with a relieved smile, “OK, we’re finally ready to see you now.” That attempt at pleasant empathy got her fired.
Big deal, right? So they let her go. So what? In Texas employees are considered “at will,” meaning they can be fired at any time for any reason or for no reason. The only thing the law prohibits is an ILLEGAL reason (like age, sex, religion, race, ethnic origin, etc.)
Well, the “big deal” is unemployment compensation. In Texas, if you lose your job you are entitled to unemployment (which affects the employer’s payroll tax rate!) There are only two exceptions: voluntarily quitting, or being fired for misconduct (usually rules violation). So employers wanting to get rid of someone will try to avoid paying the higher tax by claiming misconduct.
No, I’m not a lawyer. I’m a long-term Human Resources Manager. I’ve sat through a bunch of appeals hearings over this issue, usually arguing the company’s side. This time I’m going to be on the other side of the table. More to come as it develops.