Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Well, the unemployment appeal hearing was held. Sort of.

My daughter and I dialed in and took the return call from the hearing officer. We learned that her employer was represented on the call by the office manager, two supervisors (one of them Christina’s) and another staff member who overheard both of Christina’s allegedly negative remarks. It was the second of these that was identified as the final event causing her termination.

We listened as the hearing officer (Ms. Rose Ford) set the ground rules and had each of the parties present identify themselves. When Christina and her husband (my two witnesses) and I spoke, the employer’s office manager (I’ll call him Mr. Queen) immediately complained that he couldn’t hear us.

We tried a different telephone handset. Didn’t help. He could hear Ms. Ford, and Ms. Ford could hear all parties including us loud and clear, but he said our voices would start out clear and then fade to inaudible.

We spoke louder. Heck, we shouted. Made no difference.

Ms. Ford tried to conduct the hearing anyway, and all was going fine until she finished asking Mr. Queen all of her questions, and asked me if I had any questions for him. I said I had quite a few. I asked the first, but he couldn’t hear all of it. I repeated it; same result. Ms. Ford repeated my question, and he heard it. He answered in a way that made me want to ask a follow-up, but he again couldn’t hear me. I and the hearing officer repeated the question. He misunderstood and answered a different question from the one I’d asked.

I asked Ms. Ford if there was anything we could do to improve communications. She asked if Mr. Queen and his three witnesses could call in on different numbers and try it with each of them having an individual telephone. He said no, their office phone system didn’t work that way. She was at a loss. I tried one more question, which he claimed he couldn’t hear. (She asked me the relevance of it, I explained, and she allowed it.) I repeated it. He couldn’t hear. Get the picture?

At that point we went “off the record” and Ms. Ford consulted her supervisor. The hearing was now 50 minutes old, and very little had been established. She had only scheduled one hour for the hearing. She announced the hearing would be continued, and asked all parties if the following Monday, 3/14, would be OK.

Mr. Queen said no, Mondays were their busiest day, and he couldn’t do it then. She informed Mr. Queen that unfortunately it would HAVE to be scheduled on one of her “administrative days” since her other days were already fully scheduled, and those admin days were always on a Monday. Could he make it on March 21?

He said that would be difficult since two of his witnesses had scheduled vacation for that day. Ms. Ford said, “Mr. Queen, can you make that day or not?”

He relented and said he could.

So, the hearing was continued (as in, “push pause, and we’ll hit the play button again in 12 days”) until Monday, 3/21. Christina is very upset, because that just pushes back any decision on her unemployment and she needs the money, plus she’s been dreading this hearing and just wants it over. Now she gets to dread it for another week and a half.

Major bummer. A very frustrating day.

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