Should I quit in this situation?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by ZeroEsper, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    So earlier today, I was called in for a meeting with my bosses. It was basically a disciplinary meeting. Basically what had happened was:

    There was a situation while I was working. However, I didn't find out about it until later because it had taken place in the areas I was not monitoring (and am not expected or even allowed to monitor). The two bosses were upset because I did not submit documentation of the situation. However, the policy is that an employee of the place I work must submit documentation and there should ideally be only one document per situation. It was the end of my shift, and the coworker who came after me told me 'it's okay, I have to be here anyway, I'll write the report. You go home.' So I did, and did not submit a report. The bosses told me 'we're not upset that you didn't submit a report. But it would have been nice if you'd documented the situation. Technically we could fire you.' (which scared the hell out of me!!!) So I explained that I was sorry, I was under the impression that my coworker was going to write the report, as he'd said he would. They said 'oh yeah, we got that. That's perfectly fine. We didn't need you to write a report.' (Which is weird because they acted like 'documenting the situation' and 'writing a report' are two different actions, but they're interchangeable at my work. I've been here in some capacity for going on two years now, so I know this isn't a misunderstanding on my part).

    Here's where it gets tricky: my memory is very bad lately. There are a lot of reasons for this, but that doesn't really matter. My bosses asked me to recount to them what I'd seen. I proceeded to describe the scenario as best as I could, only I could not for the life of me remember all the details, just a few. I told them the best scraps I could salvage. They were rapid-fire asking me questions and the one woman was extremely cold and rude (that's just her usual demeanor though) the entire time. I was scared to say 'I don't remember' because they were already upset and I imagined it would lead to something like 'then you must have fallen asleep/been on your phone/not been paying attention/be an accomplice'. So I just said it as if I knew what I was talking about.

    The problem is this: if I remembered wrong and the perpetrator are caught and didn't match my flawed description, I will almost 100% certainly be terminated because they can't prove I didn't lie intentionally. If another witness steps forward (which is unlikely) and their story doesn't match mine, it's also termination.

    My version of events -may- have made sense because they already had some basic descriptions of the perpetrators and as such, if I'd outright said something wrong, it's possible they would have remembered that from the other reports and been like 'no, that's wrong, you're lying to us. Tell the truth.' HOWEVER I wouldn't count on my version being right. I may have even given the wrong number of perpetrators; in fact I think I might have. But if I correct myself at this point I'll likely be called in and grilled again because I was 'dishonest' the first time. My bosses are under a lot of pressure, and the one is known for being a very hard woman to get along with. She's very confrontational and I believe she may personally dislike me. She doesn't believe in second chances and was the one who flat out said 'technically, someone should have been fired.' And then proceeded to berate me. I know if I correct myself she'll want to know 'why we should believe you this time when you're covering your own ass.'

    So my questions are as follows:
    - Would it be best for me to put in my 2 weeks notice so that I can possibly not be fired if it turns out I was wrong? I will need future employment and I know my chances will be hurt if I was terminated from my last job.
    - How do I phrase this in my two weeks notice so that it doesn't sound like 'I was wrong and am trying to avoid the repercussions?' even though I know that's what happened.
    - If I do quit, can I legally put that I quit for 'personal reasons' or do I have to say I quit to avoid potential firing?

    Any insight is appreciated; I'll admit I'm not thinking clearly right now. Thanks for reading!

    (Also I'm totally aware this is a problem of my own design. I feel like an idiot because I should have just admitted I have almost no memory)
  2. Lissiel

    Lissiel Dreaming dead

    Firing you for being wrong in your statements would be bizarre and ethically unsound, because everything Ive ever heard about witness testimony, ESPECIALLY testimony given by anyone upset and also ESPECIALLY people who weren't actively involved says that people very frequently forget or misremember things. Its a little weird that they were even talking to you about it, and Id like to know what exactly they wanted you to do wrt "documenting" if it wasnt 'file a report.' It sounds like they're stressing about the situation and may have taken it out on you irrationally because you were there and they can.

    Honestly, I think the best thing to do would be nothing. Just keep on keeping on, keep your head down. If they come to you about a mistake you can tell them 'i told you as best I remembered it,' and theres not much they can say to that. But the most important thing is not flailing cause you're upset and ending up borrowing trouble. Breathe and take some time to recoup from a stressful event and see what happens and decide what to do from a place of calm and reason instead of stress and fear.
    • Like x 3
  3. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    I got the feeling they were just under a lot of pressure over this too. They kept telling me 'we just can't find the people who did it. We just can't find them.' And then saying, 'why didn't you do more? Why didn't you do better?' one of them asked me if I broke a policy in order to investigate (that offense would have been so severe that had I done it, it would have been instant termination, so I can honestly say that no, I didn't break policy to investigate). Of course I didn't. And I honestly was not surprised I couldn't remember, because at the time the people passed by me, I hadn't known anything was happening (like I said, I didn't find out at the time, but about 15 minutes later I was informed 'oh, this happened') so I didn't commit anything to memory because it was an average, ordinary night in my mind. I'm sorry for my bosses being in this position, but at the same time it's terrifying for me. I tend to be hard on myself, so having them both prod at me and get frustrated at me is hard. Which is all the more reason I think you're right - I can't make a decision now, because I'm under too much stress and I'd ultimately regret whatever I decided to go with. Thank you for your input!
  4. pixels

    pixels hiatus / only back to vent

    You weren't under oath. They can't get you for perjury. They can't even get you for false statements. You told them what you could remember, and that's literally the best you could do. Sounds like they were the ones going against policy by expecting you to have done things you aren't generally expected to do.
    • Like x 2
  5. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    This is true, but I'm worried they'll not spin it as 'you forgot' but as 'you lied', which obviously sounds terrible.
  6. Lissiel

    Lissiel Dreaming dead

    Just talk to them as little as possible until they stop panicking.
  7. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    The nice thing about my job is that we see our bosses maybe one or two times every four months, and usually not because they're interacting with us. They want our supervisors to handle everything. So fortunately I don't have to see them!
    • Like x 1
  8. seebs2

    seebs2 New Member

    That's really strange behavior on their part, and... Well, I mean, in the US you can fire nearly anyone for nearly anything most of the time, so I don't think your position is inherently bad. I think they were just trying to shake everyone up in case someone happened to know something.
  9. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    The 'firing someone for nearly anything' part is what scares me. I really wish if I had to be asked about it, I could have been asked about it five days ago when it happened, because the delay probably made my memory problems even worse. If I'd been asked even just the next morning I could have been more helpful. But the problem is that they're not going to see where they went wrong, they're going to scrape if off on me and say 'see, we did something! We fired her!'
  10. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    That would be the sort of thing that might actually give you grounds to fuss about wrongful termination, depending. They're allowed to fire people for dumbass reasons, but I believe it's discouraged to do it for just-plain-wrong reasons.

    Alternative plan: Whistleblow. Report to some suitable entity that their behavior in this matter raises suspicions (which it does, MHO, because that does have a "how do we cover this up" feel to it), and then if they try to fire you, look, retaliation for whistleblowing. :)
  11. rigorist

    rigorist On the beach


    Also, nope; unless the behavior is in some way illegal and the report is made to the appropriate governmental entity and the termination is for that report.
  12. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    This might actually work. My Dad has a tentative background in law and, in my experience, very little to almost no knowledge of the law can be still be useful if you throw some jargon around and say the words 'take you to court' or 'see you in court.' He's terribly passive and wouldn't actually go through with it, but I suppose they wouldn't have to know that. I think the main thing I have going for me is that there's no clear reason to terminate me because they actually said to me, 'you not writing the report isn't a problem' and then said (well, heavily implied) 'why didn't you write a report though?' And then they flat-out admitted that 'well, we can tell you told your co-worker your part in it because his report clearly reflected it.' So the reason they have for hiring me doesn't make sense. 'You didn't do something you were told you didn't have to do and we didn't need or want you to do it. You're fired.' I suppose they COULD argue I offered flawed information, but again - they waited until five days later, which wasn't good, and when I saw the people who did it I hadn't known to be on the lookout for anyone, so that whole thing leads to this jumbled-up mess of 'well, it could have been that group of people, but I can't remember the timeframe, so it could also have not been those two people.'

    There won't be a court case, but damn, this makes me glad there wouldn't be!
  13. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    Oh, I hadn't seen this first. Damn.
  14. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    This is why I do not give Actual Legal Advice: I don't know my way around stuff usually.

    That said, if the problem involves something criminal, and their behavior looks to you like they might be trying to cover for it, that might actually help. Or might not. My understanding was that there are often rules that basically say that if you terminate someone right after they report something, you have to prove that it wasn't for the report. For instance, there was something like that in our tenant's rights brochure; if you complain about a landlord to the government, and they evict you within 90 days, the presumption is that it's retaliatory. Not sure how portable such concepts are.

    Either way, I'd definitely polish the resume.
  15. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    Well, it was looking pretty polished.

    Does anyone have any tips for getting a new job if you were fired from your old one?
  16. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    So far as I know, it almost never makes any difference, because most companies won't say "fired" for fear of liability.
    • Like x 1
  17. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    The bigger the company, the less likely they ever are to admit that someone was fired, but even small places are cautious about that these days.

    Plus, if they're worried about repercussions for what happened, they may wish to have you sign a non-disclosure in exchange for severance, or something like that, if they wanted to fire you.

    However, I suspect that (a) they're rattled, and (b) they're trying to scare people to see if anything falls out.
  18. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty sure my position doesn't come with severance, but even if I could let future companies call them to confirm that I worked there without them giving me a bad review, I think that would be okay. The problem is I really don't think my one boss would allow that - I'm pretty sure she'd start bad-mouthing me. Worst case scenario I could supposedly ask, but I know from working with her in the past, she can be very under-handed. Like, maybe 'I didn't give you a bad review, I just said I personally wouldn't rehire you' kind of underhanded.
  19. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    Well, you said there were several bosses? Might be best to direct attention to the less vindictive.
  20. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    The problem is that the second boss isn't my direct boss; I report to one woman almost exclusively, but the other one is still my boss on paper. I haven't worked closely with the second woman, nor have I had much of a chance to prove my work ethic to her. It's possible that she would provide a reference, but I'm not sure if my chances are very good.
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