Evil HR Lady,

My husband was recently fired from a job – long story and not important. It has been 1 month since his firing and we just discovered that the HR dept at his former employer had not even received the paperwork stating he’s been fired. He’s still in the system as an employee. My husband is owed a payout of his PAL time that he is accumulated over the years. We cannot receive that check until HR receives his paperwork. We have spoken to the supervisor who is supposed to be sending the paperwork to HR. She says she has and that “they” have misplaced it twice. The HR Dept says they never received it and in fact have been badgering the supervisor for it.

What do we do? We can’t seem to get this paperwork processed. My husband can also not begin collecting any unemployment benefits until this is done. Any suggestions?

Thank You for your time.

I’m not sure why your husband can’t begin collecting unemployment–unless they haven’t terminated him in their system yet. Generally, once you are terminated you are eligible to receive unemployment. (Generally people–let’s not get into rules and exceptions.) But, if you can’t you can’t.

It’s fully illegal to withold pay for time worked, but I understand that this is accumulated vacation or similar. It’s probably still illegal to withold but not as urgent as salary.

Everybody may be telling the truth. When you say HR you tend to think of the HR person you know. In reality, that person may have no clue where to send paperwork for payout of vacation. So, your manager did send it but sent it to the wrong HR person and the HR person who is supposed to have it has not seen it. (For instance, once mail came for me but the mail room made a mistake and sent it to staffing–horrors! The person responsible for mail didn’t know who I was, so rather then sending it back to the mail room or–gasp!–asking, she just set it in a stack. It turned out to be legal paperwork regarding severance. I had to call the former employee and she said she’d sent it in, but we couldn’t find it and she had to re-do it and it was a huge mess–all because someone wouldn’t take 30 seconds to ask around.)

Did your husband sign a general release in conjunction with his termination? There may be a contact person listed in that. Try that person. This person will be well versed in terminations and—here’s the important part–understands the value of getting former employees to go away happy. Happy terminated employees don’t sue. Unhappy ones start calling lawyers. They will expedite your PAL.

If that doesn’t work, call payroll directly. They will be responsible for paying it out–and will say they need the form from the supervisor to do so–but if you are nice enough and explain how you know it’s not payroll’s fault, but could they please call your supervisor and have them send the form directly to payroll? Please? Pretty Please?

Don’t give up but don’t stop being nice. Nice helps. Nice with a lawyer helps even more. Of course, being unemployeed makes it difficult to obtain a lawyer. So, you write a letter, addressed to the CEO and head of HR and Person in the General Release. Then below your signature you write: cc your brother-in-law/neighbor/second cousin who is a lawyer, esq. Then send that person a copy of the letter with a note saying, “ignore this.” Then you’ve been honest–you did send a copy to the lawyer–but it hasn’t cost you anything. And you’ve just upped your ante.

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5 thoughts on “Frustrated

  1. I thought that was against the labor codes in most states.

    Being nice always helps – because your husband may never work for this company again..but most companies have a lot of nepotism.

    Having said that – what they are doing is probably causing a hardship. When you are out of a job – people need all the monies they are owed. Don’t fret about having to hire a lawyer yet. In most cases the department of labor will help you before it even gets to lawyer status. Most companies really listen to the DOL.

  2. I offer you techniques of “Police Persistence” gleaned from Daphne Markham, ombudsperson for the Oakland CA Police Department. As Evil suggests keep calling and stay nice.

    Also take notes. Every time you call, note the person you spoke to, the date and time, and what he or she said they would do.

    When you call to follow up, read off your short version of notes in order. Date, time, who, what, result so far. Always mention the date AND time.

    Always ask for a person’s supervisor’s name. If they will not give it to you, call back and ask to speak to so-and-so’s supervisor.

    Before you make any call, take all your adjectives and put them away in a locked drawer. Put works like “attitude” in there with them.

    My favorite opening line: “Hi, I’m calling because I think you may be able to help me with this or tell me who I should speak with.”

  3. OK, so I can’t type. That should have been “Polite Persistence” but police persistence wasn’t bad.

  4. On the other hand, he can go to the office and then claim his paycheck… his “firing” has not been processed, right?

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