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I work for a non profit agency. I was hired for one position

but after I started I...
I work for a non profit agency. I was hired for one position but after I started I found out that the position doesn't really exist and I am not being forced to work 4 different positions. I have expressed that I am overwhelmed with them all verbally and in writing, but my supervisor and the director have ignored me by not responding to me at all. I have notified HR through email as well. I am not sure what to do as I found out that my supervisor is setting me up for termination if I refuse to work a position.
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Answered in 30 minutes by:
5/14/2013
ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,512
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
Verified

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I understand that you went to work with this agency with one role in mind, and that, not only did you not get to work in that role, you have 4 others that you're overwhelmed with.

ScottyMacEsq :

It's entirely possible that they're setting you up for termination if you can't keep up with their demands. But if it's not possible for you to reasonably do so in the first place, then they could not have a basis to properly deny unemployment.

ScottyMacEsq :

First of all, you need to understand that Maryland is an "at will" employment state. At-will employment meansthat 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.

ScottyMacEsq :

Only if you could show a valid employment contract, or that the actions were illegally discriminatory, or some written employment policy that was violated by them as applied to you, would you be able to overcome the at will employment doctrine and sue for wrongful termination (when and if it gets to that point).

ScottyMacEsq :

Rather, one major concern is that if you quit, or if you're terminated, would you qualify for unemployment benefits?

ScottyMacEsq :

voluntarily quits his employment. By creating separate disqualifying provisions in this section, the legislature intended to make a clear distinction between those factual situations in which an employee is discharged and those in which he quits the job.


If a claimant voluntarily quits his job for reasons which constitute good cause, no penalty will be imposed against the claimant's receipt of unemployment insurance benefits.


If a claimant voluntarily quits his job without good cause, but for valid circumstances, a penalty consisting of a delay of payments for five to ten weeks will be imposed. The duration of the penalty is discretionary with the fact finder. Once the penalty period expires, the claimant may still be eligible for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits available under the law.


If a claimant voluntarily quits his employment without good cause or valid circumstances, the claimant will be disqualified from receiving benefits until he becomes reemployed, earns at least 15 times his weekly benefit amount in covered employment, thereafter becomes unemployed through no fault of his own, and meets the other requirements of the law.

ScottyMacEsq :

The statute does not define "good cause." However, it does set out some guidelines for determining when there is good cause. To establish good cause, the claimant must show that the cause for leaving is directly attributable to, arising from or connected with the conditions of the employment or the actions of the employer. Purely personal reasons, no matter how compelling they may be, cannot constitute good cause.


However, if the conditions of employment cause an employee to violate sincerely XXXXX XXXXX beliefs, there is good cause for quitting the job. The belief does not have to be consistent or logical, or shared by all members of the employee's particular religious sect, but it must be sincere.

ScottyMacEsq :

If you have medical problems arising from or connected with the condtiions of employment, and can produce medical evidence to support your claim, you could have good cause for leaving.

ScottyMacEsq :

Also, if there is more hours that you have to work as a result of this change, it could be good cause.

ScottyMacEsq :

 


In one case, the claimant's schedule was much more varied and broken up than she was lead to believe when she was hired. Consequently, the time she had to be available for work extended over the entire day and late into the evening. This made child care almost impossible to arrange. The claimant made a good faith effort to work this out, but was unable to do so. The claimant voluntarily quit for a substantial cause, connected with the work, which is one of the definitions of valid circumstances. Smith v. Lourn M. Boyce, Sr., 135-BR-93.


 

ScottyMacEsq :

Here's the page where you can find these cases and precedents to support you if you're terminated or if you voluntarily quit:

ScottyMacEsq :

Personally I think that if you have not been in this role too long, and have shown that you never could have performed in this role, that you could still get unemployment. "Not meeting expectations" is a basis for denying unemployment, but only if they can show that you CAN meet expectations, but that your failure to do so shows some intent on your part.

ScottyMacEsq :

If they can't show that you have shown an ability to meet these expectations, the fact that you have failed to meet them would not be a termination connected to the work, and you could still get unemployment.

ScottyMacEsq :

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, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

I am not concerned about unemployment. There are inconsistencies at my job. My supervisor works 2 position on the same shift and gets paid from both grants, she is given extra duty pay. My mobile crisis team supervisor gets paid full time to show up PRN. My colleague who I have to work with in one of the other positions gets paid full time (more than I do) and shows up whenever she feels like it and I am expected to work around her schedule. I am also expected to work more than one position on a shift and get paid for one unlike my supervisor. I also was told that I could not get paid for working outside of my shift that I would have to receive comp time. I feel like I am working in a hostile environment. I lose sleep over having to come to work, I have migraines and I don't know what my supervisor's expectations for the day are until she shows up. I have not been properly trained, but I get chastised if I do something that I was not trained to do but am expected to know to do it. I am not interested in unemployment at all.

ScottyMacEsq :

I'm sorry, what then are you interested in finding out? That is, what would be your question?

ScottyMacEsq :

(I interpreted this in regards XXXXX XXXXX happens if you're terminated...)

ScottyMacEsq :

Hello? Did you see my follow up question?

ScottyMacEsq :

(I can only answer the questions that you present, and I mistakenly assumed that you were talking about unemployment / what happens if terminated). Can you better inform me of what information you're seeking?

Customer:

I really want to know can I be forced to work 4 different positions that have 4 different grants when I was hired for one that does not even really exist due to non board approval but there is a grant for the position?

ScottyMacEsq :

Are you being paid for the time that you actually work? Are there any written policies that say that you'll only be working one position / grant / etc...?

Customer:

My offer letter states that I am being hired for one position. I was told that I was being hired as a Foster care counselor. My offer letter states that I am a phone counselor. I am currently working as a phone counselor (1 grant), a foster care counselor (another grant), a mobile crisis team member (a different grant), and a family therapist (the 4th grant). I was told once I got into the position that the Foster Care counselor position has not been approved by the board, however they have had the grant for years so I am a phone counselor with duties as assigned.

ScottyMacEsq :

Understood. Can you tell me if your offer letter had any specific period / duration of employment where you were guaranteed this position, or was it open-ended (no guarantee of a specific period of time where you were guaranteed employment in this position)?

Customer:

my offer letter is open ended.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you. Most offer letters are (and when there's no guarantee of employment, that's not an "employment contract" that you can enforce the terms of). The "at will" employment doctrine (even relating to job duties, etc...) would still apply, regardless of the written offer letter. If there was a written employment policy that governed your job responsibilities, what positions you would work, etc... then it might be the basis of a discrimination claim / wrongful termination (if terminated) but without that in writing, the employer does have the discretion per the at-will doctrine.

ScottyMacEsq :

Now as to "hostile work environment", I am sure that your work environment is hostile... but that term actually has a separate legal meaning than the standard lay definition.

ScottyMacEsq :

"Hostile work environment" is used in sexual harassment and racial harassment cases.

ScottyMacEsq :

It would have to be hostile specifically because of gender, race, religion, age, or disability.

ScottyMacEsq :

(most of the time it's sexual or racial, although it could be the other factors)

Customer:

There is a policy. It is in my employee handbook. It gives the details of what I am expected to do as a phone counselor. There is no reference to the other 3 positions.

ScottyMacEsq :

Now it could be that then nonprofit is violating the terms of the grants, if the grants specifically contemplate one employee for this one role, and not sharing time among the others. But that would be an issue for the grantor (either private or governmental) to take up with the nonprofit, rather than something that you could complain about.

ScottyMacEsq :

As for the policy, if it says that phone counselors cannot be employed in other positions, or that you will have the right to stay in one position, that is what would be needed.

ScottyMacEsq :

That is, the policy would have to be violated by the nonprofit.

ScottyMacEsq :

Having policies doesn't mean that they necessarily violated them. And even in the case where there is a violation, it would have to be deemed to be "material" (in that had they not violated the policy, you would not have suffered the harm that you did)

Customer:

So, essentially there is nothing that I can do but to work the 4 positions that my employer is requiring me to do? I don't have the grant information. I am working on that, but I cannot be sure as to what the grant specifically says in regards XXXXX XXXXX phone counselor. I am only sure with one grant and that is the Foster Care Counselor, the position that I was told I was being hired for initially.

ScottyMacEsq :

Unfortunately, yes, that is the case. There is no law that says that you can't work in more than one role, or that limits how many roles you can work. There's no law that says that you can only work a certain amount of hours and no more, either in 1 role or many. The laws that are on the books makes sure that you're paid for the time that you do work, protecting you from discrimination based on race, age, religion, gender, or disability, and giving you benefits if you find yourself out of a job due to wrongdoing on your part.

ScottyMacEsq :

Again, if there was a written employment policy that was violated, then that would be a separate theory (contractual) of recovery.

ScottyMacEsq :

The only other possible cause of action, which is a long-shot, is "intentional infliction of emotional distress", which is a civil cause of action.

ScottyMacEsq :

In short it says that individuals cannot act in extreme and outrageous manners, that reasonably and actually causes severe emotional distress.

ScottyMacEsq :

This is an extremely difficult case to make, because you really have to show actual, physical manifestations of the emotional distress, as testified to by a medical or psychological expert.

ScottyMacEsq :

Then you have to show that the actions were so outrageous and beyond the norms of what is acceptable in society.

ScottyMacEsq :

Excessive hours or responsibilities generally are not in this category, because while it might be unreasonable to expect you to fulfill all these roles, it's not extreme behavior intended to cause distress...

ScottyMacEsq :

(that's where most of those cases fail....)

Customer:

Ok, thank you. I just want this to stop and I want to be treated fairly. I've discussed it with my supervisor, the director and HR and have gotten no where. I don't know what else to do besides quit.

ScottyMacEsq :

I understand, and my pleasure. I hope that this clears things up a bit for you. 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, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,512
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
Verified
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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,512
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Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney

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