My employer unfairly fired me. My supervisor set me up.
Here’s the situation. My supervisor texted me. He did that a lot and always expected me to answer him right away. I answered his question with a one-word text, “no.”
I wasn’t unsafe. I glanced down only twice, once to see the message and once to hit the letters “no.”
When I returned to the office, they fired me for texting.
I confronted my supervisor, who swears he didn’t set me up, that he didn’t know I’d get fired. I asked him about all the times he texted me and asked if he was going to be fired. He said, “Look, I text when I’m sitting at my desk or walking through the office. You could have pulled over.”
So, I asked him, “Are you saying you never texting while driving?” He walked off.
They gave me my last paycheck and told me I violated company policy. My girlfriend still works at the company. She looked up the policy and printed it for me. It prohibits talking on cellphones while driving. It doesn’t say anything about texting.
Help me get my job back.
While I don’t know the grounds under which your company fired you or how your employer learned you texted, if your employee handbook has a rule against employees engaging in illegal activity, your texting qualifies as a terminable offense. Most states have laws banning texting while driving. These laws exist because multiple studies validate that texting and cellphone use while driving dramatically increases the chance of accidents.
If you want your job back, visit your employer’s HR officer or CEO. Let them know you learned from the situation and your mistake and ask to reapply for hire.
To say you learned, you need to first learn. You say your eyes only left the road twice—that’s enough time to hit a kid or pup that runs onto the road. Your supervisor’s correct, you could have pulled over into a parking lot before you responded to a text.
Meanwhile, your employer needs to update their policy. They need to let employees know your company doesn’t expect them to answer a call or text while driving, but to pull over and park first.
Their policy exists because if an accident occurs, it’s easy to verify texting or other cellphone use, which means trouble both for the cellphone user and the user’s employer, especially of the cell user was driving for work or conducting work on the cellphone.
Your supervisor shares some blame. He should have made you aware he expected you to pull over before responding to texts. He should have also let those who decided to terminate you learn he initiated the text, because that’s part of the story.
Your finger-pointing, however, is also part of the story. You say your supervisor set you up. You say, “others do it,” an excuse that denies you have accountability when you did it. How do you get your job back? Take accountability and ask to reapply.
(c) 2022 Lynne Curry
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3 thoughts on “Unfairly Fired: My Supervisor Set Me Up; Are You Sure About That?”
Talking on a phone while driving is bad enough, however texting is infinitely more life threatening to the driver and others. Unfortunately, I see people texting while driving every day.
The way the story is presented, it seems that there are missing pieces. The employee who texted an answer back to her supervisor while driving and then got fired for texting while driving pretty much has to have been reported to HR by the supervisor, yes? Or there’s some “automatic” spyware, AI monitoring on the phone and somehow an alert was sent to HR? This seems sneaky and intrusive, if so, and employees need to be notified if some kind of monitoring of cell use while driving is going on. Also, what was the employer doing? Setting up “tests” so that it would be easy to do some large-scale firings? (sounds a little Elon Musk-ish). This is an organization of less-than-ethical standing, IMO.
Sue, thanks for your great comments on several posts. And you’re right, I didn’t learn how HR learned.