Monday, March 21, 2005

HEARING'S OVER!

Who won?

Ah, later. First, here's how it went...

I started in by asking questions of Mr. Queen, who had completed his story of the events leading up to the termination before the hearing was "continued."

Without giving you a blow-by-blow, which would take me all night to type out and would bore you to tears, I'll just say I came at him pretty hard. Succeeded in making him mad. He was sarcastic and almost surly in a few of his answers, which was exactly what I wanted the hearing officer to hear from him.

I established that the medical practice had lost 3 of its 4 doctors, that other staffers had been let go (drawing the inference that Christina's firing had really been a layoff), and that two of the fired employees were very pregnant.

I tried to get him to admit that he didn't follow his own progressive discipline policy. He wouldn't admit it, but I think I cast some serious doubt.

I challenged his firing her, an admitted good employee, based on two comments she allegedly made that weren't even heard by him. And without even asking for her side of the story on the second one.

My task was simply to show that what she was accused of doing failed to meet the definition of "misconduct" required in Texas to disqualify a fired employee from drawing unemployment.

His other witnesses were pretty weak and had little to say about the two final events leading to Christina's termination, so they didn't get much air time and I chose not to cross examine them very much.

Then the hearing officer asked my daughter questions about the events. Anticipating this, Christina had rehearsed her typed-out responses and read them like a pro. She sounded natural and conversational, and made all the right points. That should have convinced Ms. Ford (hearing officer) of the way things really happened. Why? Christina's version included lots of details and just sounded like the way people talk and interact. Mr. Queen's version of events sounded artificial.

Am I biased? Well, sure. But I can listen with some objectivity, and I'm so proud of my daughter I could pop.

Afterwards I asked her questions to bring out points I thought were important to prove there was no misconduct.

Then Mr Queen had his chance to cross examine her. Still mad from my questions of him, he challenged her repeatedly about minor points. More than once Ms. Ford told him, "That question has been answered. Move on."

He managed to bring her to tears once, but she bounced back and avoided yielding to the urge to snap at him or be sarcastic, which I DIDN'T want the hearing officer to hear.

When he was finished Ms. Ford asked if there was anything more. I said I wanted to make a summary statement. She allowed it. I hammered home our points that the firing was a layoff (and possibly pregnancy discrimination), the alleged acts were not misconduct according to the legal definition, they hadn't followed their own progressive discipline policy, and their actions belied their claims. Pretty strong stuff.

Mr. Queen was just short of apoplectic. He railed back, accusing Christina of being unable to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate words and phrases, and stated that they didn't need anybody like that working there.

I loved it, but it hurt my daughter. She took it to heart, despite my assurances (and those of her husband) that she was NOT that kind of person and had excellent interpersonal skills.

Why did I love it? By saying she was "unable" to make the right choices in speaking, I think he lost his own case. In Texas, precedents have shown that if the employer admits an employee is unable to do some part of the job, then failure to do it is NOT misconduct. I'm hoping Ms. Ford was listening to that diatribe.

So, who won? We don't know. When all the talking was over, she told us, "I'll make my decision, type it out, and send it to both parties as soon as possible. Thank you for your time and for participating. Goodbye."

Sorry to leave you hanging. Rest assured, as soon as I find out, I'll post it.

Even if it's the wrong verdict.

2 comments:

Candace said...

Way to go!!!

Hollyinmd said...

Wow!!! I don't see how it could have gone any better. We will be anxious to hear the final verdict, but I can't see how she can help but find for Christina. Holly