Saturday, March 12, 2005


If you’re not a regular at this blog you’ll need to scroll down and read the postings about my daughter’s unemployment appeal hearing to understand this one.

Three days ago I thought I was prepared to point out the real reason for Christina’s firing. It had nothing to do with “misconduct;” it was a reduction in force, pure and simple.

So why did her employer go through the effort of making up a case against her and calling it “misconduct?” Two powerful reasons.

First, that effort denies her unemployment and thus saves them money on payroll taxes.

Second, she was six months pregnant at the time, and it avoids what the lawyers call a “prima facia” case of pregnancy discrimination. (That’s Latin; means something like “at first glance,” or “on the face of things.” Kinda like, “an apparent case of... unless there’s more under the surface.”) To avoid a prima facia case, the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the firing. Then the burden of proof is on the fired employee to show that the real reason was discrimination.

I had prepared lots of questions to show their need for a reduction in force and their financial pressure to get rid of two very pregnant employees. This builds a circumstantial case. That might not be good enough. How can I prove what the real reasons were?

Well, after showing the logical real reasons, I then have to disprove their fictitious reason (misconduct). OK, I think I can do that. Their actions and documents didn’t match their stated reasons. But I’ve got to show that by asking questions. Of course, they’re going to answer in a way that defends their actions. And still, is that proof? Will that convince the hearing officer?

Are you tired yet? I am.

As I’ve said before, this is not a murder trial. It’s not a life and death situation. But Christina needs the unemployment income. The need is becoming acute. She is now almost 8 months pregnant, and the chances of finding a job in that condition are about nil. She’s entitled to unemployment compensation. She’s not getting it because her ex-employer is making up a case against it to save money.

She and I are both losing sleep over this. Literally! I wake up in the night and begin mentally arguing with Mr. Queen about whether he followed his own discipline policy (he didn’t). “And doesn’t that prove that there really wasn’t any misconduct?” And so it goes.

I have all of next week and next weekend to re-prepare. Which is good! But I’m feeling the pressure.

Every Dad wants to be able to stand up and defend his child against lies and unfairness. But if Dad fails, especially because of something he could have done or said but didn’t think of it when the time was right... Well, I just don’t want to think about the anguish and second-guessing that I’ll go through.

That’s pressure.


Candace said...

You're doing a GREAT job for your daughter, and no one else could possibly do better by her. Of course you're nervous. Use that nervous energy to beat the crap out of these guys!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chenoah. No matter what happens Christina could not have a better representative. I imagine even F. Lee Bailey felt qualms before going into court on behalf of his clients. Christina's employer was in the wrong, and hopefully this is clear to the hearing officer at this point even before the follow on session. And the unwillingness to cooperate with the hearing officer exhibited by Christina's employer had to have a negative impact as well. YOU GO JOHN!!!!