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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Assisting employees and employers for over 14 years.
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Iwas recently terminated for not accepting shift change to

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Iwas recently terminated for not accepting shift change to work for supervisor under investigation with the sheriffs department we both work for. in addition, i have documentation accumulated over the course of 1 year proving that other employees guilty of moral misconduct have recieved no disciplinary measures for their actions. as a corrections officer i have also documented and discussed with the sheriff and a very hostile and biased jail administrator the medical violations by their contracted health professional. i also have documented jail admin. harassment of other employees absences due to sickness in which he sent a deputy to the individuals home to verify he was there and "was sick." the sheriff and chief deputy have not acted in any way to resolve these issues and much more. there is also a racial component in all this as well.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Hi and thank you for using JustAnswer!

I am sorry to learn of the circumstances you've described. Please clarify: what is your actual question that you'd like assistance with? What information are you seeking from JustAnswer?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i believe that i have a wrongful termination and discrimination suit and i have listed for you some details not all. am seeking your opinion also as to whether eeoc is viable.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
You were terminated for insubordination, correct?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
have not reieved official docs from sheriff, jail admin initiated on that basis. hav documented egregious law violations concerning inmate medical care, none in dispute. also hav been on workmen's comp for latent tb infection as a result of inadequate housing of inmates with infectious disease. much more
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. I want to clarify because this is how your question started: " terminated for not accepting shift change". Is that true? You were terminated for not accepting a shift change?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
correct. had difficulties with supervisor before of the shift in question. supervisor lacks ability, female and a racial component here as well. supervisor female forbidden to interact with male inmates, male officers however with escort are required to manage female inmates in event no female officer is available. this very frquent.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Thank you.

The "difficulties" with the supervisor is not relevant; however.

The key is that you were ordered to do something, it was a lawful order, and you refused the order.

Is my understanding correct?

If it seems that I am zeroing in on a very limited issue; that is true. I am. Because it is a critical issue and I want to make sure I understand those facts for certain.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
yes based on the investigation she currently undergoing but due to racial component no action can be expected. have policy specifics of medical contractor in hand also which are clear as to what can and cannot be done by officers.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Thank you.

Let's radically shift gears for a moment.

Let's say that I am driving for 100 miles. For the first 99 miles, I obey all traffic laws. Everyone else is speeding, passing me on the right, not yielding, not wearing their seat belts, etc.

During my last mile, I failed to yield and failed to pull over for an ambulance that's come with its lights and sirens on.

Even though I was a model driver for the first 99 miles (and the others weren't and nothing happened to them) can I be cited for what I didn't do in that last mile?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

yes definitely. not sure of the point.

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
The point is that your refusal to accept the shift change is an act of insubordination.

Insubordination is an independent basis for an employer to fire someone. It's a legal means to fire someone.

What happened when you filed for unemployment?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

havent yet. i blew the whistle on egregious rights violations concerning inmates welfare and am amongst individuals who do not posses the knowledge that i do in this matter. i also identified st of alabama laws being violated concerning staffing requirements for inmates and clear and indisputable evidence of unfair promotion criteria and unfair and biased disciplinary policy.

Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. XXXXX accept everything that you've said is true, that is like you being the model driver for the first 99 miles. You see?

However, when you refuse to accept a shift change, that's an act of insubordination. That act is looked on its own. It's like failure to pull over for an ambulance. The officer doesn't care how well you drove the first 99 miles. The officer only cares whether or not you pulled over for that ambulance.

Here, the issue is: why were you fired? You were fired for refusing to accept a shift change. Can an employer fire an employee for insubordination? Yes.

Now, help me understand why your refusal to accept a shift change was not an act of insubordination? Help me understand what legally prevented your employer (e.g., a union contract?) from ordering a change in your shift?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
my prior grievances with supervisor which were investigated and found to be with merit.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
That's fine. You filed grievances against the supervisor and they were substantiated. Congratulations.

The law does not prevent the employer, however, from changing your shift. What written policy or contract prevents the employer from making shift changes?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
none, other than it was documented as a hostile work environment and i was moved to another shift and in effect have been ordered to return to the scene of the crime.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Why did the employer order the shift change?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
two individuals hired for the shift are not up to task and supervisor cannot deal with male inmates per dept policy and therefore cant adequately train them. of note, one 70 plus yrs of age the other a former radio dispatcher neither a trained corrections officer. i was not a supervisor and felt that she is tasked as a supervisor and should therefore train and supervise. she is incompetent as well as dubious due to contraband investigation.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
Lovely. Just lovely.

So, in other words, your shift was changed because you knew how to do the job/get the job done and the others were/are incompetent?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
correct. is this beginning to become advesarial? i only wished to seek your advice.
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
It's not adversarial at all. I was just thinking out loud. Sorry. It's just frustrating when management dumps on good employees instead of holding incompetent employees accountable.

I understand that there have been past problems with the employer. I totally, totally get that. I understand that you've won the past battles and it hasn't been easy.

Unfortunately, the employer has the legal right to make shift changes. The employer has that discretion. It's legal for the employer to make shift changes. The employer had a legitimate reason to change your shift.

When you refused that directive, you opened the door for your employer. You gave the employer a legitimate reason to let you go. Insubordination is a valid basis for anyone to be terminated.

That's the harsh reality of things. It's mile 99 and that's what you're getting the ticket for. There's no basis to fight that.

I know that this is not what you wanted to hear but you deserve a candid answer. I wish very much that I could offer you an answer that was more favorable to your circumstances, but the law seems to be pretty clear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

I hope you understand.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide to give you excellent service!"
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
so the documentation that i have, the clear violations of law harassment and hostility as a result of wanting to do the right thing is meaningless?
Expert:  JB Umphrey replied 5 years ago.
It is not relevant in this context.

Your issue is termination. Why were you terminated? You were terminated because you refused a shift change assignment. The employer has the legal right to make shift changes. You have no legal right to refuse that order. Your refusal is insubordination. It gives the employer a totally independent, stand on its own, basis for termination.

Even if all the other bad things that you have experienced is true (99 miles) -- assume it all to be true -- it's not relevant. Because here, the issue is termination and what brought it about (last mile). That's the key.

I hope this helps to clarify things.
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