Career & Education

I was fired unfairly. What can I do?

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, September 17, 2017

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Dear Career Advisor:

I have a situation I would like some advice on. I was hired on a year's contract by a local financial entity as a relief loans officer. The contract commenced on November 4, 2016 and was scheduled to end November 7, 2017.

Six months in, while I was engaged with a client I received a call from my supervisor instructing me to come immediately for an unscheduled appraisal. I was given no prior notification and I was totally unprepared to present my sales figures. After the appraisal, when I double-checked the figures my supervisor used, I realised that they were understated.

Within an hour of the end of the appraisal session, I emailed the correct figures on a template to the supervisor and requested a review of his assessment.

The next day I asked the supervisor if he had received and read the email with the information regarding the discrepancy in the figures used for my appraisal. He responded, “Not as yet”. For the rest of the week I went about my work as usual, only to receive a letter of termination at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 7, 2017. It was dated the 5th. I called the senior HR director and explained that I sent a clear email to the supervisor disputing the figures used in the appraisal and while waiting for a response, I received a letter of termination instead. She expressed surprise that I had protested the sales figures and asked why I didn't say something earlier. As proof of my protest, I gave her my password to access my email to see for herself.

That was months ago; I have not heard from her. Since then I have painstakingly recovered my sales information as proof of my production, and I am seeking advice as to any steps I can take to challenge what appears to be a deliberate act.

I have no hard evidence, but it seems to me that 0I was terminated based on false information used by a supervisor who misled the HR department about my level of production. I was not presented with the opportunity to challenge their final decision, and I did not have any union representation. I therefore I feel helpless as to what type of action I can take.

I thank you in advance for any advice you are able to share.

KW

PS: For clarity, my actual sales volume (dollar value) was 92 per cent of target. My supervisor incorrectly used 77 per cent. My loan target was 130. I attained 119 or 91 per cent. My supervisor used 90, representing 69 per cent.

Dear KW:

Thank you for sharing your situation, which is among the common challenges faced in the workplace. No doubt, other readers will be able to relate.

As a worker, there are certain protections provided by law and therefore, you should not resign yourself to feelings of helplessness.

Going on the assumption that the sequence of events that you have outlined and the data you have provided are accurate, it appears that you have just cause to raise grievance procedures with your former employer. It is appropriate to follow up your verbal communication with the HR manager with a written request for a response.

However, without knowledge of the terms and conditions of your employment contract, it would not be prudent to give a specific opinion. For example, did your contract delineate the steps that would be taken should you fail to meet monthly or quarterly targets? From your record it appears that your actual cumulative performance was within striking distance of the targets; however, were there times when they were above?

Based on the complexity of the issues you have presented, we are suggesting that you take immediate steps to seek the advice and intervention from an experienced labour relations officer at the Ministry of Labour.

We trust that this matter will be amicably resolved soon. Feel free to keep us up to date.

Sincerely,

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice president, student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit questions to her at careeradvisor@ncu.edu.jm

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