Jump to content
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

I was going to quit my job... and then I was fired, unjustly! Ah!


imonedaful
 Share

Recommended Posts

This whole scenario embarasses me terribly (not sure why) but it makes me not want to discuss it with anybody I actually know. So here I am asking for advice from random people on the internet.

Here is the background, I have been admitted to a PHD program beginning this fall (yay!) which requires me to move. I have been out of school for the past two years just working and living like a "regular" person. I am currently working two part time jobs and had planned on working both until the beginning of August when I move and start graduate school again. One of my jobs, I am an administrative assistant at a college (fairly irrelevant) and the other I work as a personal trainer at a gym. I have been working at the gym for the past two years and for the most part I have enjoyed it.

I had already told a number of my regular clients that I was planning on leaving to attend graduate school. I had not told anybody in "management" about my plans yet. I did not feel obligated to give more than a two week notice, as it is not difficult to hire another trainer, albeit they will not be as awesome as me ;). Also, our company is virtually a revolving door when it comes to "management" positions. I could make you a page long list of the number of managers I had seen come and go over the past two years of employment. We recently got a new guy in our location last week.

This week I started feeling sick on Sunday but kept going to work through Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday morning I felt much worse and decided to go to a walk-in clinic. I let all of my clients I had scheduled that morning know that I could not make the session because of being sick and I received confirmation that they understood and there was no problem. I got checked out, I had strep throat, highly contagious, was not recommended to return to work until Friday. I made sure to get into contact with everybody I had scheduled for those two days, whether through text or strained phone call (I had lost my voice entirely) to say I couldn't make it and reschedule for a better time. It is very rare I have to reschedule sessions on my behalf because I hardly ever get sick or have anything major happen, it wasn't a big deal.

I was at home Thursday night recovering when I get a call from this new manager guy. He asks me why I haven't been showing up for my sessions. I tell him "I rescheduled all my sessions today I am at home with strep, I am not supposed to be at work." He told me that "no, you did not reschedule." I mentioned I had talked to everybody and worked out the schedule. We went back and forth and he said I was not allowed to reschedule clients without telling him first. In all of the years I had been working there, nobody ever said I had to do that and I never had done that. I was told I had to tell him that I was sick first before contacting my clients. That does not make logical sense to me, since I was meeting my clients when he was not even working. What was he going to do?

In conclusion, the misunderstanding ended in him handing me termination papers that listed the reason of "absenteeism." I never actually missed anything. I feel like the real reason is that we had conflicting personalities and every time we get a new manager they fire somebody to show their power. You may ask me, why does it matter if you were going to quit your job in four weeks anyway?

Well, here is why:

1). What happened was unjust. It was a misunderstanding. He did not even ask the people who I was scheduled with whether I contacted them or not, he said he would do that later, after he fired me. I was accused of something I didn't do. It makes me upset.

2). I feel bad for my clients. I had told them I would train them up until I left. Now, I look like a big fat liar. They got the short end of the stick with this one, abruptly having to change their whole program with no warning.

3). I could use the extra money. I only had two part time jobs. I will not starve or end up in a cardboard box without it but it was going to help cover some things I needed to do. I.E. replaces the blown out shocks on my car, moving expenses, etc.

So what should I do? I know it is not worth throwing a fit over since I am moving in a month but it just feels wrong. Furthermore, what can I do to earn extra income in that time frame? I am trying in mind to think of what I can do for a few weeks that will help with these expenses? Work at a summer camp or something? I don't know. I am kind of put in a bind here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess I don't know how personal training works. Are you an independent like a hair stylist and you "rent" a booth (in your case, space in the gym)? Or are you an employee? If you are a regular employee, then I guess I'm not understanding why you didn't contact the manager first. Rescheduling with all your clients on your own was a great thing to do, but you still should have told somebody at the gym that you wouldn't be there. Unless I'm misunderstanding your description of what happened.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you are a personal trainer, why not just try to train some clients on the side? Run boot camps or that sort of thing. Should be able to get you some extra income. I think what your manager did sucks, but I do agree that maybe you should have told him. Although if you run through managers on a regular basis, I can also see why you didn't

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So what should I do?

Go on with your life.

I empathize with your situation and I understand and respect the mindset of centering your work around the expectations of your external clients. However, here's the deal. You focused on the satisfaction of your external clients while neglecting an internal client--your manager. Regardless of one's view of one's boss, the boss is still your boss. As a worker bee, it was your responsibility to know your boss's expectations and to fulfill them.

Additionally, you made a mistake by disclosing to your external clients your departure before letting management know. In such a situation, your boss should not be the last to know. (My suspicion is that word got back to management, someone got pissed because they were the last to know, and then concluded that your secrecy may have been a precursor to the poaching of clients.) Moreover, it is not unusual for a boss to bench/reassign a worker after that person has given notice. I once took the most skilled member of my team off-line when he gave his notice even though he was sorely needed. (It was a risk management thing.)

If you're going to take with you "lessons" from this experience, I suggest that you center your thoughts around the importance of clear and timely communication with stakeholders, the importance of knowing the rules of the game--even those that are merely implied, and the advantages of putting oneself in someone else's shoes. Especially if you don't like that person and that person has power over you.

As for your sense of embarrassment, let it go. Chalk this event to a lack of experience on your part. Let it go. Do enjoy the next month. Rest up. Read up. Pack up. (Let it go.) :)

Edited by Sigaba
Link to comment
Share on other sites

you still should have told somebody at the gym that you wouldn't be there. Unless I'm misunderstanding your description of what happened.

The issue is that I train clients very early in the morning (5:00am or 6:00am). When I woke up for a 6:30am client is when I had realized I had gotten much worse and was going to the doctor. I contacted my early morning clients directly and told them what was going on. The managers are not there until 9:00am or 10:00am and I had never officially met this new guy and did not have a cellphone number or anything for him. There was no way for me to contact him and in all likelihood he was asleep at 6:00am and not going to be of much use.

We have a computer system that allows me to schedule and reschedule clients at my own discretion. If this was not allowed, then it wouldn't be designed into the computer system. Clients change their time slots all the time if they have things going on and I never had to ask permission then. In the two years I had been working there, I never had to report when a session was rescheduled, that just isn't how our system works.

Go on with your life.

Additionally, you made a mistake by disclosing to your external clients your departure before letting management know. In such a situation, your boss should not be the last to know. (My suspicion is that word got back to management, someone got pissed because they were the last to know, and then concluded that your secrecy may have been a precursor to the poaching of clients.) Moreover, it is not unusual for a boss to bench/reassign a worker after that person has given notice. I once took the most skilled member of my team off-line when he gave his notice even though he was sorely needed. (It was a risk management thing.)

I get that, to a certain extent. I did not exactly go around telling everybody. I only told a handful of people that knew my plans and had asked me. One of my clients had written me a letter of recommendation... I am pretty sure they had an idea that I was planning on going to graduate school. Obviously, I wasn't going to tell a manager my plans until I knew for sure what I was doing. I could have told my manager as soon as I knew I was going to graduate school, but oops that manager was transfered to a different location. That information would have been lost as soon as it was given. Your point that it is "not unusual for a boss to bench/reassign a worker after that person has given notice" was even more of a reason not to tell a manager right away. If I tell somebody two months ahead time I am moving and they decide to just fire me instead I would be even worse off. In addition, it is nearly impossible for me to poach any clients here, I am moving almost 10 hours away, nobody is going to come that far to train with me. I was actually going to give notice to the person that hired me (the district manager) when I was leaving and not whoever was working at our location since it changes so frequently.

Edited by imonedaful
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand why you didn't feel like telling your manager(s) was important, since they don't seem to last very long. My wife has worked in places like that before, her shortest manager was only there for a week! Every new manager tries to do something big -- change up a procedure or whatever to show they are the ones in power. And it makes sense to not give too much notice, or they might just reassign you etc. Or, maybe not in your job, but sometimes if you're up for a promotion, they might not give it to you if you are leaving in 2 months.

However, no matter what, your boss should probably be the first one to know. If you wanted to let your clients know 1 month beforehand, then you should also let your bosses know 1 month beforehand. They probably did find out that you didn't tell them but told your clients -- they might not have known where you were going to grad school (so maybe you could have been poaching them), or they might just be upset that they didn't know first. What my wife is doing now (since we are moving soon for PhD), is that she told her boss that we will be moving for my school by the end of summer -- her manager said thanks for letting me know, give me an exact date when you can. She's planning on giving them ~4 weeks notice. Although 2 weeks notice is the minimum, if you want to maintain good ties with your bosses afterwards (maybe you don't!) then you should probably give them a bit more.

In addition, they probably were upset that you didn't tell them you were rescheduling your clients / not showing up. The rescheduling without permission thing sounds like a misunderstanding between the new guy and how things practically work. But the new guy probably expected you to at least call the gym and leave a message for the managers to let them know that you aren't coming in.

So, from what you said, it sounds like while you did not communicate with your bosses properly, firing you right then was a overreaction. It might not be fair, but it doesn't sound like they did anything wrong legally. I feel bad for you too, because you've done so much to make sure your clients are happy but in the end, things still won't work out! :(

What can you do?

1. In Canada, if you are fired, you are entitled to 2 weeks termination pay (it's the other side of the "2 weeks notice" law -- an employer also has to give you "2 weeks notice" if they are firing you, or they can fire you right away and pay you for 2 weeks). I think this only applies if you have worked there for at least 1 year. Maybe this will apply to you and you will only be without income for 2 weeks?

2. You could try to negotiate with the employer to allow you to resign instead of being fired, if you don't want it on your record, or if you need to go on unemployment benefits (if they exist in your state), but this is probably not worth the effort. It doesn't sound like you will be getting references from them in any future jobs either.

3. Do you still have any legal obligations to the gym? i.e. now that you are no longer an employee, are you still allowed to contact your clients and make private session scheduling with them? Or would accessing their contact info be some breach of privacy now that you are no longer employed? If so, maybe renting space at a studio or a gym for the next few weeks might be a good source of income?

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. In Canada, if you are fired, you are entitled to 2 weeks termination pay (it's the other side of the "2 weeks notice" law -- an employer also has to give you "2 weeks notice" if they are firing you, or they can fire you right away and pay you for 2 weeks). I think this only applies if you have worked there for at least 1 year. Maybe this will apply to you and you will only be without income for 2 weeks?

2. You could try to negotiate with the employer to allow you to resign instead of being fired, if you don't want it on your record, or if you need to go on unemployment benefits (if they exist in your state), but this is probably not worth the effort. It doesn't sound like you will be getting references from them in any future jobs either.

3. Do you still have any legal obligations to the gym? i.e. now that you are no longer an employee, are you still allowed to contact your clients and make private session scheduling with them? Or would accessing their contact info be some breach of privacy now that you are no longer employed? If so, maybe renting space at a studio or a gym for the next few weeks might be a good source of income?

Good luck!

I wish we were as awesome as Canada. Here we have the "employment at will" contract which means I can leave or they can terminate me at any time. Generally, the only time you are entitled to severance pay is if it stated in your benefits. I was a part time hourly employee, no benefits.

We have a no compete clause in our contracts as employees (i.e. we cannot work at another gym and try to convince our clients to work with us there instead kind of deal) but if I am no longer employed there I am not legally obligated to it anymore. However, since I was let go, I have been dealing with angry backlash of clients contacting me asking why they are being rescheduled with a different person. I told them I would be happy to train them independently if they wanted but most of them are in a contract with the company or have already prepaid for sessions. It wouldn't be fair to ask them to pay the company and pay me unless they really wanted to.

The issue was we as trainers operated autonomously for the most part. We set our own schedules and scheduled people around it. So if you are working another job, going to school, or taking Friday off to visit your Grandma you just block it off on your schedule and don't make appointments then. We never had to get our time slots approved my anyone. The managers are there to sell training and assign us clients, they do little else (they make a meager base salary and are paid commission). Scheduling around being sick seems no different than scheduling around taking a class or having to work another job. Therefore, I did not think I needed approval. If someone new comes in and wants to implement a system where everything has to be approved ahead time then okay, but at least tell me that first and not just fire me.

Thank you for the advice. I will look into it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you described sounded a lot like the tutoring company I worked for during undergrad so I probably would have done the same thing as you if I was in your situation. :( So I definitely empathize with what happened, don't get me wrong, but I was just trying to explain that while unfair, I think the manager still acted within the confines of the law, as I understand them anyways :P

Just to clarify, in case people read this later who are in slightly different situation, termination pay and severance pay are two different things (at least in Canada anyways). Termination pay is a basic employee right protected by law (i.e. part of our Employment Standards Act) on the same level as vacation pay, minimum wage, overtime pay etc. Unless you broke the law and got fired, employers must give 2 weeks notice or pay in lieu of notice prior to termination. Severance pay, as you said, is a benefit that has to be negotiated in your contracts so it doesn't usually apply to hourly employees. In certain circumstances, severance pay can be much higher -- at one auto parts warehouse near my hometown, when the company decided to close down the warehouse, the severance pay was something equivalent to 18 months salary and 2 years of health benefits (this is not the norm though).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see your reasoning on this, but I'm still not understanding why you didn't call someone or at least left a message saying "I'm sick, I won't be in today, and I already rescheduled my clients". I'm saying this because the manager is the boss and they are expecting you to be there. When they see you are not there, of course they are going to wonder what the heck happened to you. Knowing to contact someone about your absence, even if it is someone at the front desk, should be a given. However, I do think the manager overreacted a bit by firing you. I think giving you a warning or a write up or something would have been more appropriate. I agree with the others though. Fair or not, they can fire you if they want to. I don't think they did anything illegal. See it as a lesson for next time.

Edited by robot_hamster
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see your reasoning on this, but I'm still not understanding why you didn't call someone or at least left a message saying "I'm sick, I won't be in today, and I already rescheduled my clients". I'm saying this because the manager is the boss and they are expecting you to be there. When they see you are not there, of course they are going to wonder what the heck happened to you. Knowing to contact someone about your absence, even if it is someone at the front desk, should be a given.

We are an independent training company that works inside of the gym. The employees of the gym (the people who work at the front desk) actually work for a different company. I could have told them all kinds of things... but it would not have done me much good. Nobody is going to wonder what happened to you if you are not actually scheduled to work. If someone comes up to me and asks me where to find another trainer I just pull up their schedule online and see if they have sessions that day. If their schedule is blank I tell them "hey, they are not coming in tonight..." or what not. I would not go tell a manager "so and so isn't at work tonight, oh no!" because we don't operate that way. We are only paid per session we are not paid any other time to be there. Nobody would expect you to be there if you did not have anybody scheduled. So when I rescheduled all my people when I was sick, there was no expectation that I would be there hanging out.

However, I do think the manager overreacted a bit by firing you. I think giving you a warning or a write up or something would have been more appropriate. I agree with the others though. Fair or not, they can fire you if they want to. I don't think they did anything illegal. See it as a lesson for next time.

I agree, it was an overreaction. I know it wasn't illegal what happened (I did not sign the papers understanding that I was being terminated though). There is no use trying to get my job back, but maybe I should file a formal complaint through the corporate office? And try to find a temp job for the next few weeks :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you do decide to seek some form of remedy, I recommend that you do the following.

  • Collect copies of all documents that you signed and all materials that were given to you (e.g. handbooks and manuals).
  • Go through the materials to see if there's a specific policy regarding absenteeism.
  • Reconstruct in your memory any and all discussions you may have had with management about this specific topic.
  • If you have signed a document saying "I have read and agree to comply with company policies" and there's a policy regarding absenteeism, and/or you were told "Do x, y, and Z OR ELSE," you may be SOL unless you can demonstrate that this policy had not been applied to others in similar situations. (That is, Jane Doe got a verbal warning, John Smith got written up--after violating the policy twice, while you got canned.)
  • If you've not done so already, write a narrative of the sequence of events. In this narrative, write about how you felt at each step of the way. (You want to "document" not only what happened, but how what happened made you feel.)

Once you've established a fact pattern, take a step back and decide if you want to proceed.

Alternatively, you may decide to focus on sublimating the "lessons learned" of this situation. Regardless of the manager's decision, his handling of it bothered you in a big way. Instead of just thinking about what you might have done differently, or will do differently in a similar situation, give some thought to what you would have done (or will do) when you're in a position of authority and you need to hold someone accountable. Of course, the specifics will shape your response but have in your mind's eye a general sense of how you want to use your power. Do you want to discipline and punish, or do you want to teach, or do you want to take an entirely different approach altogether? (How you answer this question may help you determine how you want to proceed.)

My own hope for you is that you focus on doing what you need to do to get your head back on right in time for your next step--graduate school.

Change of topic. I invite the person who voted the OP down to articulate why he/she did so. The very first sentence is a glimpse into what awaits many of you -- feeling beat down without really knowing why and feeling psychologically isolated from those nearby. Did you vote down the post because you do not want such matters to be discussed at the GradCafe?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you really want to spend your precious, little remaining break time fighting this? What will you gain exactly if you win?

Just don't think about it. And if you do occasionally think about it, spin it positively in your mind. Keep a list of reasons why your experience was a good thing to look at if your feelings of resentment resurface.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are an independent training company that works inside of the gym. The employees of the gym (the people who work at the front desk) actually work for a different company. I could have told them all kinds of things... but it would not have done me much good. Nobody is going to wonder what happened to you if you are not actually scheduled to work. If someone comes up to me and asks me where to find another trainer I just pull up their schedule online and see if they have sessions that day. If their schedule is blank I tell them "hey, they are not coming in tonight..." or what not. I would not go tell a manager "so and so isn't at work tonight, oh no!" because we don't operate that way. We are only paid per session we are not paid any other time to be there. Nobody would expect you to be there if you did not have anybody scheduled. So when I rescheduled all my people when I was sick, there was no expectation that I would be there hanging out.

Okay, this is what I wasn't understanding. I had asked you earlier if you were independent of the gym or if you were an employee. Thanks for clarifying this.

Could you just contact a temp service for some meaningless work for a week or two?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is there somebody of higher seniority that you could discuss this issue with? If this is a brand new manager, it could be that he's just trying to throw his weight around and see what he can get away with. At any rate, he's not the right kind of person to be in this position and his boss should be aware of this fact ASAP. From what you've told us, it sounds like you were wrongfully fired. As you mentioned, this isn't devastating to you financially, but it may lead to other problems for you down the road, such as receiving a bad job reference. For this reason alone you should definitely try to clear things up. You probably don't want to return to working there (if they were allow you to have your job back) since it sounds like management is doing a very poor job and it's just not working out for you. But it might be possible to have your record changed from saying you were fired to saying that you "resigned." This should clear up any future reference problems, so long as you don't list this guy as a reference (obviously!) If the head boss won't help you, you could try approaching the HR department or whoever is next higher-up. It's probably not worth going to court over, since its a part time job and you were leaving anyway, so I wouldn't take it that far. In the meantime, could you pick up more hours at your other job? It would be a lot easier than trying to find other work. You could also try a temp agency.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice everybody. I don't think I am going to puruse any drastic action with company since I don't think it is worth the effort. I can get a stellar reference for just about anybody in the company except this guy. The previous manager I had still works for our company just in a different location. By the time I would need a reference this guy probably won't be around. I do have a Research Assistantship lined up already for me when I get to the university so I am not exactly itching for a gym reference right now.

I think I will contact the temp agency that I used to employed through when I was a substitute teacher. They normally have some kind of summer employment. I am trying to not stress about it too much since in the long run, it is not going to have a major affect on my life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am trying to not stress about it too much since in the long run, it is not going to have a major affect on my life.

I agree. However, you might want to spend time thinking about the observation from your OP.

This whole scenario embarrasses me terribly (not sure why) but it makes me not want to discuss it with anybody I actually know.

In the months and years ahead, you may well end up in a scenario that is markedly different IRT the fact pattern--for example, a professor bleeds red ink all over a paper/project you thought you nailed--but if the emotional aftermath is the same, it might not be such a bad thing to have a plan in place for dealing with your feelings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would start with the folks in the independent training company. Explain to them what took place and how your actions were not unusual. Say you are planning to head back to school but wanted to finish training programs with your clients as promised. Tell them you feel you were unfairly terminated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. However, you might want to spend time thinking about the observation from your OP.

In the months and years ahead, you may well end up in a scenario that is markedly different IRT the fact pattern--for example, a professor bleeds red ink all over a paper/project you thought you nailed--but if the emotional aftermath is the same, it might not be such a bad thing to have a plan in place for dealing with your feelings.

This point is very valid. However, we all get blindsided from time to time and there is no real preparation for that except the ability to think on your feet. I used to think I had my whole life figured out until I decided to go to college in New Orleans the year of Katrina. After Katrina, I realized there is no way I could be prepared for everything and all those contingency plans mapped out in your head do not encompass everything you could possibly be given to handle. You can't really plan on how to deal with feelings, you have to learn as you go a lot of the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This point is very valid. However, we all get blindsided from time to time and there is no real preparation for that except the ability to think on your feet. I used to think I had my whole life figured out until I decided to go to college in New Orleans the year of Katrina. After Katrina, I realized there is no way I could be prepared for everything and all those contingency plans mapped out in your head do not encompass everything you could possibly be given to handle. You can't really plan on how to deal with feelings, you have to learn as you go a lot of the time.

@imonedaful--

I believe you may have misunderstood the point of my post. I am not talking about preparing "contingency plans" for unknown events or having one's life mapped out.

I am talking about looking for patterns in how you feel when the unknown happens. For example, one may not know when an authority figure is going to use his/her power in a way you find distasteful, but one could potentially get a sense of one finds it distasteful. (For example, one may have a well developed sense of fair play.) So, knowing this, when the unknown happens, a person can recognize that sense of distaste, one of its causes, and then make a decision on how to incorporate that feeling into one's response.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.