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Thanks So Much For The Catch-22

, , , , , | Working | October 21, 2020

I work in the bakery of a local grocery store. One day, I’ve just gotten out of my car when a customer approaches me.

Customer: “Excuse me. You work here, right?”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “Good. Could you help me load my car?”

Me: “I just got here; I haven’t even clocked in yet.”

My manager, who is having a smoke break, approaches.

Manager: “Give her a hand.”

Me: “But I’m off the clock, I can’t—”

Manager: “You’ll do as you’re told; I don’t care if you’re off the clock. It’ll take you five minutes, tops. Meet me at the door when you’re done.”

She walks away. I reluctantly load the lady’s car. My manager is waiting at the door with a formal writeup in hand.

Manager: “Sign this, please.”

Me: “What? What’s this all about?”

Manager: “You were not doing as you were told. That’s insubordination.”

Me: “But I was off the clock! You can’t write me up!”

Manager: “You’re lucky that I even am writing you up for this. Any other employee would have been fired on the spot. Sign the writeup. Now.”

I reluctantly sign it, and then I go inside, clock in, and go about my business. Two hours later, my manager calls me to her office.

Manager: “I am really sorry, but I have to let you go.”

Me: “On what grounds?”

Manager: “You were working off the clock. You know that’s a fireable offense, right?”

Me: “But you told me to help that lady off the clock and even wrote me up for insubordination when I objected!”

Manager: “I know I did. Clean out your locker and go home, please.”

As soon as I got home, I called HR and filed a grievance, explaining everything in painful detail. A week later, the regional manager called me and told me I was not fired and I could resume my work schedule. He also gave me back pay for the days I lost, as well as all of my benefits.

My manager was suspended for two weeks, but strangely, she was NOT fired. While she was away, she left me a threatening voicemail that she was going to fire me as soon as she got back. Sure enough, when my manager returned, she made good on her threat and fired me again. The regional manager was NOT happy, especially when I played the voicemail to him.

It’s now been six months and I’ve just been promoted to supervisor, while the now-ex-manager is still locking horns with the company for the unemployment that she was denied when she got fired for retaliation. We don’t expect her to win, considering that we still have the writeup, the security footage of her telling me to help the customer off the clock, and the threatening voicemail as evidence against her.

This story is part of our Best Of October 2020 roundup!

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