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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 16213
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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I was fired after an investigation that involved a dementia

Customer Question

I was fired after an investigation that involved a dementia patient being tied up to a bedsheet in a chair that I had no involvement in. What I want to know is what are my chances of receiving unemployment and if I can file a lawsuit? I live in Ohio and
yes I know it is an at-will State. The reason my ex-employer gave me for termination was because I admitted to closing the fire doors on the unit, mind you, this is a dementia unit and they are remodeling to make it a lock down unit so residents cannot go
beyond those doors so that they can freely roam as they please. This was reason number one. All shifts closed these fire doors at times and corporate and even the lady that fired me have seen these doors closed and went through them multiple of times until
two months ago when an incident happened with another resident which I was off that day! Then she informed everyone the doors are not to be closed. We never closed them after she told us and this was two months ago. Never was written up or told we couldn't
close the doors before then, but now they are using this as an excuse to justify their firing. Reason two. I was told I interferred with an investigation because the administrator told me not to speak to anyone but my curiosity took over and I called my charge
nurse to ask her what was going on and why was our shift being blamed for this? I made no other mentioning besides this. And first shift found him nearly two hours after this happened but they are supposed to do rounds immediately as they walk through the
door but obviously they did not but they have not been suspended or fired. This company is shady and the old administrator warned us of them before he put his two weeks in before they new company took over. Since they have taken over, they've pushed out nearly
all the RN'S, D.O.N, nurse aides, and even management. I believe this was their one and only chance to get me on something so they did the same with me. Mind you I was the first one they called to pick up hours and extra shifts because they are severely understaffed.
My annual review was coming up in two months and that meant they'd have to consider a raise. Would I qualify for unemployment? or a lawsuit for wrongful termination?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer.
I'm sorry to hear about your situation. You're correct that Ohio is an at-will state. At-will employment means that without a contract, you have no contractual or other right to employment with the company. The company is entitled to fire you for any reason: a good reason, a poor reason, or no reason at all--as long as the company does not fire you for an illegal reason (race, gender, age, religion, etc...). But it extends beyond firing, to hiring, promotions, demotions, wage cuts and raises, disciplinary actions, and even scheduling. Unless you can show that this was done in violation of a contract, union agreement, or a clear violation of an unambiguous and binding clause against the employer, or that it was done because of some minority status (age, race, gender, religion, disability) that you have, then they do have this discretion.
In short, unless you have a basis that avoids the at will relationship (such as a contract that says that they can't terminate you but for "good cause", etc...) then I'm afraid to say that you wouldn't have a case to sue them (as illogical their rationale was and as incompetent the "investigation" that implicated you).
Now you should still be able to qualify for unemployment, as the reasons given do not indicate that you shouldn't. Unemployment is available to individuals who are unemployed due to no fault of their own. It seems to be the employer's decision and overzealousness in enforcing rules. It does not appear to be misconduct to a level that would make you ineligible for unemployment. Now if you do apply and they deny it, don't be surprised, as this is often the case at the first level. You usually need to file an appeal to get your side of the case heard.
Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for answering my question. You said that I wouldn't have a case unless it is regarding race,sex..etc? Okay, well I am part of the minority group and I've worked there for over 5 years and have never been disciplined or written up. This one incident occurs and I feel I am being given a harsher ruling than others have been given, especially since they have not said with 100% guarantee I had any involvement in patient abuse which this investigation and suspension was originally based on. Also, there has been a repeated number of times when they've told me two males cannot work the same unit, even after working half the shift and all my patients were taken care of, put to bed, toileted..etc. They said two males cannot be on the same unit because just incase a female didn't want male care there would be a female to take care of them but there were no female care on this unit, and in fact none of the females denied me any care and many times requested me over most of the female aides. I also want to note that if a patient did request female care there were other females in arm reach away on another unit we could swap out. Two males cannot work a unit but two females can. Is that not enough for EEOC discrimination investigation/lawsuit?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 2 years ago.
It's incredibly "iffy", at best. There's no harm in not filing a case, as it does seem that you can show differential treatment (or potentially so) based upon differing minority status.
You can find out how to do this here:
http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/fed_employees/filing_complaint.cfm
Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the fast response. I was in the process of putting lack of work or separation from work for unemployment because I was suspended for nearly two weeks without any returning phone calls from my employer until today when I got the call telling me I am terminated. What would you recommend the reason for firing to unemployment. They've already told everyone before many times before actually that if they dismiss someone they make sure they do not get unemployment so I am already aware they will try to fight it.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 2 years ago.
I would put inadequate cause / negligent investigation as the reason for the termination.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I think this is my last question. What would negligent investigation mean to unemployment hearing officer? Does that mean I am admitting anything because I made a call to my charge nurse while this investigation occurred does it? I don't want them to appeal and say they're investigation was negligent and I ruined it because I made a call or something silly.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 2 years ago.
Basically that means that there was no good reason for terminating you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
ok... Sorry for all the questions. I have an interview on Monday and I have already done a background check but at the time I was applying I put my start date and end date which I put present as still there but I applied last week when I was on suspension so I was still employed until today. What should I tell new employer why I am no longer there and is it legal for my ex employer to mention anything about suspensions/investigation or that I was fired?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 2 years ago.
What you say is up to you, but yes, it is legal for them to say why you were let go (although if they tell a lie about you, you could have a case based on "defamation"). It's best to tell the truth (as they could find out from your former employer legally) although giving them your side of the story and showing that this is not unique to you, but that others have been targeted in the same way, that would show it's not an issue related to you but it's really your ex employer's fault.
If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 2 years ago.
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating... (please note that rating closes this question out, so if there's nothing else, please rate it so that I can assist other customers that are waiting for answers to their questions)