CHICAGO — In all my years in business, I’ve only fired one person. Usually, I let problem employees dig their own holes, and they fade off into history. Documentation is the key to blocking an unemployment claim—or so I thought.
I’m not saying that documentation doesn’t work, but I am saying that whoever works in the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) offices is giving out benefits regardless of documentation. Perhaps they are being more lenient because the economy is weak, but it isn’t helping my business.
As I wrote last month, I had to fire a woman who worked in our call office. Customers had warned me about her attitude, but too late for me to get rid of her and still avoid paying unemployment benefits.
I had been documenting her misdeeds. She pushed and shoved a female coworker; I filed a discipline report and gave her a copy. She pushed and shoved the same coworker again, within inches of a hot press; I sent her home for the day. When she returned, I tried to discuss her attitude problem with her, and she flew off the handle. I fired her.
I filed documentation and an eyewitness report, and the state said she would receive benefits. After a telephone hearing, an adjudicator reversed the decision, denying her benefits due to misconduct. But a final determination again granted her benefits, which she has been receiving since last summer.
I file an appeal regularly, but a final appeal must be made in court with a lawyer, which would probably cost at least $2,500. So there it stands—a person who endangered another person and violated OSHA regulations gets benefits from our tax dollars.
I learned something important from this encounter: Don’t cope with a situation like this alone. Call the police and let them file a report—it is third-party proof of the incident even if no one is arrested, not he-said/she-said.
I have two other unemployment claims that are costing me time and money, from current employees who say they were discharged. One filed for benefits twice in 30 days; he must think he can beat the system, collecting his paycheck and unemployment, too.
What’s more, the post office mysteriously misplaced a letter demonstrating their current employment status. I await a final determination on two currently employed workers with bated breath—will they, too, receive benefits?