Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Employee Files- Another Reason to Put Everything in Writing…

March 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Business Law

dilbert2My friend (we’ll call her Nancy) called me the other day because she recently fired an employee (we’ll call her April) for excessive absences and the employee was filing for unemployment benefits from the State. Unemployment benefits aren’t actually paid out by an employer.  The benefits are paid out by the State from unemployment insurance premiums which are collected from employment taxes.  However, employer insurance premiums rise with every claim that is paid out, so it is worth it to challenge false claims for unemployment benefits.

April was a manager at Nancy’s store, so the continued absences had a serious effect on Nancy’s day-to-day operations.  In order to prove that she was entitled to the benefits, April had to show that she was fired through no fault of her own.  April had previously called in sick many times and some of those times were at the very last minute.  One instance was by text message in the wee hours of the morning before the store was to open.  This especially left Nancy in a bind because it was very difficult to find a temporary manager on such short notice, and Nancy lived out-of-state.  

After a series of absences and many different excuses, the last straw came when April was scheduled to work on the weekend of  Valentines Day.  Again, she sent Nancy a text message and told her she couldn’t come in.  This time it was because she had to attend her grandmother’s funeral at the last minute (even though she knew of the scheduled funeral a week before).  One of Nancy’s other employee’s told her that April was actually planning a weekend getaway with her boyfriend (she overheard her on the phone).  

Nancy fired April after a long talk and explanation of the reasons.  She referenced all of the previous last minute absences and reasons (sick, personal problems, etc.).  Well of course, April files for unemployment benefits immediately and Nancy contests the application. 

Once a claim is filed for unemployment benefits, the State hears both sides of the story.  In Nancy’s situation, the State asked for paper documentation.  Did Nancy provide written notice each time April did something wrong?  Well Nancy always provided a verbal warning, but never documented anything in writing.  So now, it was basically Nancy’s word against April’s.  Of course, April shows the state her grandmother’s printed obituary as proof.  The State says, we can’t prove that she went to the funeral, but we don’t have any other documentation which proves her series of misconduct either.  The outcome is still being determined, and the State is allowing Nancy to submit an affidavit of the other employee’s statements, but Nancy’s problems with her employee and the reasons for firing her would be easier to prove if she had written documentation…

So… the moral of the story?  Keep a file on every employee and document, document, document!  This will also help you if any employment lawsuits are filed as well…


One Response to “Employee Files- Another Reason to Put Everything in Writing…”
  1. Sam Hasler says:

    Very good advice and quite well written. Keep up the good work!

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