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Experienced Attorney
Experienced Attorney, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 404
Experience:  20 yrs+ employment law exp, answers/practical plans of attack/aggressive actions/evaluations
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I received a warning letter from my employer last Friday.

Customer Question

I received a warning letter from my employer last Friday. I disagree with the contents of the letter and there are false statements in this document. Do I have to sign it? The warning letter states I have to 'change my attitude' in a week or my boss will terminate me by next Friday. I was also deceived and coaxed into resigning immediately during this discussion with my boss stating that I should just resign now, as I will have a better chance of getting unemployment benefits, rather than waiting to get terminated by them where in that event, it will be difficult to receive unemployment benefits. How do I respond to this?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 5 years ago.

Hi -

 

Generally if you quit work you are automatically disqualified.

 

Can you tell me what state this is in?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Washington

Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 5 years ago.

I will be back with you within the next couple of hours. Please be patient. Thank you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
can I show you the warning letter?
Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 5 years ago.
Yes. Do you know how to upload it? It has to be in electronic format so you either have to already have it on your computer or scan it in. Once you have it in your directory follow these directions

You simple type a word or phrase - WARNING LETTER. Then highlight the phrase WARNING LETTER.

Next hit the chain link icon by the smiley face that you should see in the Just Answer reply box.

A box will open up allowing you to browse your computer directory until you find the letter. Pick the letter from your directory to upload.

I'm a little unclear about your facts. Did you resign?

Send me the letter and then we'll chat some more about what you should do.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I just will write out what the letter says. Is this conversation between us private or do I need to change the names in the letter?

 

No I didn't resign.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I wrote out the warning letter, used initials... r

 

ks(my boss) and zw(hr) met with mm (me) today to discuss behavioural issues related to her job. After serving in a temporary capacity this spring, mm was hired fulltime this summer as our volunteer manager. mm initially started out very strong and was a great employee through at least the bike ms event in mid september. however, since some time around november, ks has been talking with mm about her attitude and attempting to coach her on improving it. ks has not seen sufficient improvement during this time, and it has now come to her attention that other staff members are also not feeling supported by mm. all in all it appears mm is not happy with her job or putting in a good effort. today we agreed that this meeting would serve as a warning to her. on monday she will need to come in with a positive "can-do" attitude and begin to re-gain trust of her co-worders. If ks determines at any time during the week that mm's attitude has not changed for the better, she will be terminated from her position immediately. at the very least they will meet by friday to discuss mm's ongoing employment. if they agree at that time that mm will still be employed into the furture, it is still with the understanding that mm will need to maintain a positive attitude or her employment will be at risk

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Will you have an answer for me by tonight or tomorrow? I need to go address this on Monday morning 2/9.

 

Thanks!

Expert:  Experienced Attorney replied 5 years ago.
Hi -

Thanks for sending me the additional information. Keep in mind that Washington State is what's called an "at will" state. Businesses may fire "at will." There are no laws regarding dismissal, so businesses are not required to give warnings or follow any particular steps.

Your question originally was, "do I have to sign the warning letter?"

It really is up to your employer. Unless the employer is engaging in unlawful activity (discrimination because of your age, gender, race, religion, color, national origin . . . ), the employer is free to set the requirements for you keeping your job.

Usually employees are asked to sign letters such as this so that the employer can show that the employee received a copy of the letter and/or understood the content. It does usually not mean that you agree.

I'll also give you some bad news. Many employers do not bother to give warning letters unless they are planning on firing someone. In other words, the employer makes up his/her mind that the employee will be fired and then gives the warning letter just to make a record of what happpened in case the employee later tries to sue.

Every now and then an employer really wants to give an employee a chance to improve. So, the letter is given as a way for you to improve and keep your job.

So, if you want to keep this job - keep in mind that the employer is in total control. They can fire you with no notice at all in an at-will state such as Washington.

Instead of fighting what the employer says, if you want to keep your job you are going to have to admit that perhaps you've had some deficiencies and you're going to have to improve.

Let's skip to the next issue you asked about - unemployment insurance.

Unemployment insurance is designed to assist workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. So if you quit, then you DO NOT get benefits.

Benefits are not based on financial need. Although weekly benefits do not completely replace your regular earnings, they can help you meet expenses until you find a new job.

If you get fired you should apply during the first week you become unemployed.

The state decides if you are eligible for unemployment benefits based on your employment history and the reason you became unemployed.

You must have 680 hours of covered employment in your base year to meet the initial requirements to qualify for a claim.

You need to give the State the reason you became unemployed. Again, if you quit - no unemployment compensation.

You are probably eligible if your employer laid you off for lack of work.   They will have to make a decision about your eligibility if you were fired or suspended by your employer, or are on a leave of absence.

They will get information about your separation from both you and your employer. Both you and your employer have an opportunity to respond to each other's version of the separation. The state will then issue a written decision based on the information they gathered.

You must be physically able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work to get unemployment benefits.

So, if you want to give a written response to the letter this is what I would suggest,

"Thank you for the written notice last Friday. I appreciate the acknowledgement of my original efforts toward the job but I was disappointed to learn that you feel that I'm not happy with my job and that you now feel that I'm not putting in a good effort.

Even though I disagree with your description of my recent work, I am reporting today with the positive "can-do" attitude that you've requested. I love my job and will give a greater effort and with you're support, I'm sure that I can change your opinion of recent events. Thanks again for the warning and giving me the opportunity to change your opinion."

. . . .

Please look this over and feel free to request clarification from me. There is no point in arguing with the employer. The employer controls this. If you argue, you will be fired and you really don't have any recourse unless there is evidence of unlawful discriminaton on account of race, color, gender, age, disability, religion, national origin . . . .


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