Fired for violating an unwritten policy

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I was just fired for using my personal laptop, during my lunch, connected to the company’s “guest” wireless network. When you connect to the guest network, a “rules of the road” message comes up about acceptable use (gambling, illegal activity, etc), but nowhere does it say employees can’t connect while using non-company devices. I am sure many employees throughout the building are connected to the guest wireless on a regular basis. I used my personal laptop to view baseball online during the opening week of the season. I honesty figured it was better to use my personal device on the guest network rather than my corporate device on the corporate network. A few days after doing this my boss called me and sakd, “Someone said you were using your personal laptop at work?” I told him that I had in fact used my computer, on the guest network during lunch, to check Major League Baseball highlights. The next Monday I was terminated for violating company policy.

I have worked for two companies for a total of 32 years. I was rated as “highly valued” or higher in each of my reviews for the 9 years at my latest employer. There were no job performance or attendance issues, but my boss and I did not get along. He is much younger and wanted to be “best buddies” with his subordinates, and I wanted to keep a professional degree of separation. After a recent management style disagreement, I voiced my concerns to my HR rep and a month later I was terminated.

I am trying to move on and am very actively perusing other employment, but the idea of having to tell people in an interview that I was “fired with cause” at my last job is very difficult. I don’t want my job back but would like to set the record straight, maybe get a severance package, and/or my insurance coverage back until I find employment.

Do I have a “case”? Should I seek the advice of a lawyer, or just get over it and move on. I am extremely careful not to bad-mouth my previous employer or company in interviews, but I can’t help but feel “blackballed” for having to explain being fired.

To read the answer, click here: Fired for violating an unwritten policy

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