I worked at a RITE AID in Southern California(local 1167 is our union), and was terminated for myself and a guard using cheap in store brand pepper spray to protect ourselves from a violent shoplifter whom we recovered product from. Mind you, I've been assaulted and had a broken jaw from a previous shoplifter years ago....This store has a night shift, is near a major highway, sells alcohol and is 5 minutes from the low income housing of this city(and the apartments nearby now cater to low income families). We've had severe staffing cuts emboldening the shoplifters who live in the nearby apartments. My union rep advised me to sign a voluntary quit and since then Rite Aid has been challenging my unemployment while I'm looking for a new job....The fall before this, I had to go to the Union to get vacation time off I had requested well in advance, which the store didn't want to honor because corporate was making staffing cuts. Then management in the store came to me as if I had done something wrong... Between corporate cutting the staffing to make a more hostile and stressful work environment, them cutting the hours of our security guard leading into the incident, and making it so that employees are wrong for having any means of personal defense(company policy is no weapons of any kind, -even if it's sold at the counter and several female employees have bought the spray rather than wait to be walked to their car-we've had stalker and attempted car theft incidents)...is there grounds here for wrongful termination? I've been with the company for 13+ years and was willing to do the work others balk at only to be maligned when I ask for time off, and fired for protecting the store's merch and the lady security guard whom the suspect tried to kick in the face. Any advice would be appreciated.
State/Country relating to question: California
Tried having my union rep take care of me, she says the footage makes me look aggressive at some points, but I noticed our store camera doesn't film the area I was standing in during the incident, as I was past the outer doors. Only my legs would have been visible.
Hello,Thank you for using JA..Were you given the option of resigning or being terminated?.What is the store policy on shoplifters?.
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Store policy is mixed. I'm told at one time to apprehend, then not, then "why didn't you apprehend?", etc. Employee handbook says it is up to supervisor's discretion to apprehend, but then they don't want us touching suspect, which creates a gray area. Union rep advised voluntary quit, Rite Aid was going for full on termination. Signed voluntary quit and in days Rite Aid attempted to appeal the unemployment claim, which the folks at unemployment had taken my stance on the issue, and allowed my claim. I'm fiscally in no position to keep fighting Rite Aid on unemployment, or anything at the moment.
Ok, if they were going to terminate and you were essentially forced to quit, the unemployment board wouldn't consider this a voluntary quit. In order for someone to be eligible for benefits, they have to be unemployed "through no fault of their own". So if you were threatened with termination if you didn't quit, that isn't voluntary on your part and would be through no fault of your own. So it sounds like the unemployment office got it right in awarding benefits and should uphold any decision if they appeal..As for any forced resignation/termination and any wrongful termination claim, if the company had a policy of no weapons of any kind, and that was violated, then I don't see any legal recourse for a wrongful termination claim. .
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