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silverstaff 02-25-2015 01:25 AM

Fired, and I still don't know why. . .
"Your supervisors feel that you have failed to complete your probationary period. We cannot discuss the reasons other than that."

. . .that's what my bosses, bosses boss told me at about 2 PM today.

I was hired almost a year ago by a State government agency to be an Officer of the law. The rules require a one year probationary period, and after that it basically takes an Act of God to fire an employee.

I just got my annual performance review for last year last month, and it was a good report, no complaints, acceptable everything. Nobody had said anything even slightly negative about my job performance since last August (when I got yelled at for taking time off for military duties, see an earlier thread here I posted).

My probationary period would have ended this Sunday. If I'd walked out the door on Friday afternoon, I would have been golden. Since on Friday afternoon I was scheduled to testify in court, and would be going home straight after that, basically I would have been good as soon as I left for lunch on Friday.

Instead, I get a call at about 2 PM on my office phone. It's my bosses boss (the supervisor over the office)'s number. The person on the other end though is someone I don't recognize. She asks me to come upstairs.

I walk in, a woman I don't recognize is sitting behind the office supervisor's desk, my immediate supervisor is sitting there and another supervisor is by the door.

The woman says that I was called in because my probationary period is almost over. . .and then she says what was said above, and asks for my badge and my gun.

. . .I'm stunned.

I just had my annual performance review a few weeks ago, and got a glowing review. I was apparently the only Officer that had a good working relationship with one of the Judges our office has to deal with. I hadn't received any complaints about the quality of my work, not even an informal verbal statement of anything being wrong.

Judging by the paperwork, the person who fired me was the Assistant Director (over the agency for about 1/3 of the state, who reports directly to the Director), the person who was above the head of the office. This was a person I had never met before, and only knew from seeing her name on some personnel paperwork.

I'm sitting here wondering if there's anything I could have done differently. At least I can get unemployment, and get about 2/3 of my pay for 6 months, and I can start applying around for something else.

I'm sitting here and talking, texting and messaging with former co-workers, who said they've NEVER seen an employee terminated right before the end of their probation like that. If anything, they are terminated early on when it's clear it's not working out, but they are so overworked they hate to lose anyone. Had a 20 year employee tell me by e-mail she'd never seen them wait until a few days before the end to terminate someone, and the times they do you could see it coming, and they'd never, ever seen an Assistant Director to come in and fire someone.

Still, just stunned and wondering WTF.

silverstaff 02-25-2015 02:55 AM


Quoth Jay 2K Winger (Post 1260059)
Could this somehow be related to the incident with the boss who didn't get what military commitments were?

That's what I'm wondering about.

I was due up for my next military obligations in April, and my unit wanted me to come in one day next month to give a briefing to a unit that was deploying overseas.

No idea if that's why, but it's the ONLY thing that my employers had seemed even the slightest bit upset about since I was a new Officer last spring.

silverstaff 02-25-2015 03:03 AM


Quoth gremcint (Post 1260068)
here's a very important question, when did your benefit kick in and what kind of raise would you have gotten after that first year?

Benefits kicked in the day I was hired, and it would have been a 5% raise effective March 1st. That would have been roughly $50 every two weeks.

silverstaff 02-25-2015 01:39 PM


Quoth EricKei (Post 1260100)
Unless a contract or other special conditions required it, no, they don't have to under At-Will Employment law (if in the US) -- in fact, it's safer for them if they do not. I agree that this smells really fishy, and that the military thing may have been a factor. Perhaps someone there had it in for you, whether over the military thing or not.

I'm just glad you're getting SOME form of pay out of it, at least for a little while. If you know any higher-ups there who are on your side, perhaps ask them for a recommendation...?

Yeah, I should get unemployment, which will come out to about 2/3 of my pay, for 6 months.

They also have to pay out my entire vacation time and comp time balances, which comes to 4 and a half weeks of pay there. So I'll still be getting a paycheck basically until the end of next month even though I was fired yesterday.

I don't know if someone had it in for me, I couldn't sleep at all last night thinking about it.

It isn't just an "at will" state, which we are, the way that state law is written, for a state employee in their probationary status it's every bit as "we can fire you for any reason at any time, or no reason at all".

The only legal recourse is to allege discrimination from a Federally protected class, such as military service. . .and that's hard to prove since it had been half a year since they'd griped at me over it, and waited until the very end of the probationary period to drop that one.

silverstaff 02-26-2015 12:55 AM


Quoth rose_metal_nz (Post 1260163)
I recall in your previous thread you saying "they were too short-handed to get rid of you" at that stage - maybe that's got something to do with it?

I'm wondering about that now.

You see, when I was hired, I was the 7th Officer performing that specific duty.

When I left for my military Annual Training and was gone for 2 weeks, in that time, one of the 6 other Officers quit, so there were only 6 (me included) when I got back.

Because of the long hiring & training process, the replacement for the person who quit at the beginning of last August, just got back from the Academy last Friday and her first day actually on the job as a fully trained Officer was Monday.

That put us back at 7 Officers, briefly.

I was fired on Tuesday, putting them back at 6. I am wondering if it was budget cuts, that they only want 6 and had to let one go to keep the total number, and it was me and the newer Officer and they chose me for some reason (if it was budget, I was only a few days shy of getting the raise that comes with being off probationary status, so the other Officer would be a little cheaper to have around for the next year).

silverstaff 02-28-2015 12:07 AM

A slight update in this saga.

Some of my former co-workers wanted to take me out to lunch today. At our office, it is a tradition that when an employee leaves, that the managers organize a lunch at their favorite local restaraunt, or they have some snacks and a send-off in the break room at some point (the employee's choice of which).

Since I was fired, I wasn't getting any of that. My co-workers wanted to do it for me, so I met with a half-dozen of them at a local pizza place today for lunch.

Some news of the last few days I got from my former co-workers.

1. Many employees are very upset at this, and have lost a lot of respect for the management. While firing an employee for no given reason while on probationary status is legal, they virtually never do it. I was a well-liked, popular employee (as both my performance evaluations said, and the people who turned out for lunch with me said), and nobody could see why I was discharged.

This has meant that morale among everyone else there who is probationary has dropped like a stone. They have had it made clear that even if you work hard, work long hours, and get along with everyone, you can still be canned arbitrarily right up until that magic date.

Those who are off probation are just irate with management for doing that.

2. The office had it's monthly staff meeting yesterday. I guess they hadn't edited the agenda since the decision to terminate me was made, because there was a bullet point on the agenda to congratulate me for my hard work during the snowstorm last week to stay late during the storm to make sure assignments got done even in the middle of the storm. The managers didn't actually call it out, but it was on the agenda that was distributed. The employees noticed that the agenda had a line-item for congratulating the hard work and dedication of an employee they had fired out-of-nowhere two days prior.

In other news, I also went to the career center at my alma mater today for career/job search counseling. Aside from some tweaks to my resume to make it what's more in-style now, not a lot to do, and they said my resume is pretty strong so I shouldn't have too much trouble getting a new job.

silverstaff 03-09-2015 03:33 PM


Quoth Greenhall (Post 1260551)
I just dredged through your first thread, and what stuck out to me was the part where...let me see if I acn copy paste this in...
  1. The state government actually has VERY military friendly personnel policies (four weeks paid military leave per year, preferential treatment in hiring which is probably part of how I got the job), he's just pushing right up to the line of them. Also, it's buried way, way down in the Employee Handbook that if you've taken any military leave within the last 6 months (paid or unpaid) then they have to show cause to the personnel board and have a hearing, even if you're still probationary (you just have fewer rights of appeal and a lower standard for what constitutes cause). I don't think he realizes that's in the Employee Handbook, that for him to even try to fire me now it will have to be reviewed by the personnel board, and they may take a dim view of him firing a soldier for anything tied to their service.

I can't tell from both threads if you have definitely taken time since last August, which is right at six months ago. I just wanted to be sure you remembered this. (I have the memory of a goldfish some days...)

Thanks for the reminder. I found the following quote on Page 49 of the Employee Handbook:

"Upon returning from military duty you (whether merit or non-merit) may not be terminated except for cause for a period of one (1) year after restoration to a position following military duty. "

So, it was one year, not six months, and I'd also taken one day of military leave in October and December because our unit had a three-day drill those months.

It sure as heck sounds like, since I took military leave within the last year (paid military leave for annual training) that they cannot terminate me unless they show cause, so I can take it to the State Personnel Board for appeal.

silverstaff 03-09-2015 07:23 PM


Quoth EricKei (Post 1261643)
And SS, you know what to do now, of course: Lawyer up. Either the Labor Board itself, or (probably more useful) via a military equivalent. Document everything you can think of on paper - times, dates, names, places - no matter how insignificant it may seem at first - and give it to them along with your written concerns. Probably best not to contact the former employer in any way unless they tell you otherwise, and continue to remain as anonymous as possible online. Loose lips and all...:rolleyes:

I now have an appointment to speak with the Staff Judge Advocate (i.e. the Legal Officer) at my National Guard unit on Thursday to discuss this discovery.

I was already going to be seeing him to discuss the matter, but now that's going to be a much more interesting discussion.

silverstaff 03-11-2015 05:51 PM


Quoth wolfie (Post 1261915)
My understanding is that people in the National Guard are called in for routine training one weekend a month and two weeks a year, so are off their civilian job for military duty more than once per year. Since they are never more than one year from being restored to a position following military duty, does this mean that people in the National Guard can NEVER be terminated from their civilian job?

Well, that rule is employees of the State Government, not any employee anywhere in the state. Also, they could still be fired "for cause", but for State Employees that requires proving it to the Personnel Board, who are famously shy about substantiating a "for cause" dismissal. It basically takes breaking the law, gross incompetence, or job abandonment to get that allegation substantiated.

It's well known that in this state, to fire a state employee, other than an arbitrary not-for-cause dismissal during their probationary period, takes an "Act of God" as its called, because the hearings and appeals process can take up to 2 years.

I'd often heard that the State Government was a very military friendly employer before I was hired, I got my job largely because of the heavy weight given to veterans in the hiring process. Once you're out of Basic Training and AIT, you get a DD-214 discharge certificate for that active duty time, so you can use that to claim veteran status on employment, since you were on Federal Active Duty for several months of training, so every Guardsman basically counts as a veteran for most hiring purposes.

It was their reputation as a very military-friendly employer, combined with my supervisor's very hostile attitude towards my military service that really stunned me about all this.

As a side note touching on the Veteran employment thing, I just got back from taking the Postal Service examination this morning, aced it, and with veterans points I got what is apparently a very high score. I found that the USPS requires 6 consecutive months of active duty that was not for training purposes for Veteran status, but I've got that through a 1 year homeland security-related active duty assignment I did several years ago.

silverstaff 03-12-2015 01:19 PM

A slight update to this saga, a mildly comical one.

A couple of weeks before I was fired the office put in an order for shirts/jackets embroidered with our names. I ordered a polo-style shirt for work.

It came in earlier this week, I got an e-mail asking me to pay for it. Now, I can't actually take possession of the shirt, since it's got the badge of my former agency embroidered on it. They can't sell it to anyone else since it has Officer Silverstaff embroidered right under that badge. But, they want their $30 for the shirt since I ordered it before I was terminated.

I'm debating whether or not to just pay the $30 to not burn any more bridges there, or to tell them I'm unemployed now, can't afford the $30, and to go pound sand, or to just ignore the request for money until I see if I have any success with the Personnel Board.

I'm still headed for my meeting with the JAG Officer this afternoon. I'll see if I can share anything after that.

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