Punk Rock HR Question 28: I'm Fired!


Dear Laurie,

OK, long story short — I got fired from my full-time, retail job at a large store. My boss, who is a jerk, told me he wasn’t accepting my doctor’s notes for my absences. He wrote me up and fired me. I contacted the CEO and HR because I think that it’s illegal for him to write me up for going to the doctor for an emergency, especially since I had a 2 doctor’s notes. I’m waiting for a response and I have filed for unemployment. Do I have any other options?

Retail Girl


Dear Retail Girl,

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m 99.999999% sure that it wasn’t illegal to fire you from your job.

I am going to assume that you probably violated the company’s attendance policy, Retail Girl; however, even if you didn’t violate the policy during this specific instance, store managers and retail district managers are trained to aggressively manage out employees who don’t meet a certain profile.

  • If they don’t like your attitude or your performance — or if you have a history of absences — retail store managers will find a way to ‘work the system’ and boot your ass out the front door.

Retail store managers and district managers are experts and know too much about employment litigation, progressive discipline policies, and FMLA. I suspect that the manager of your store may have a personnel file that demonstrates (to his satisfaction) your history of attendance policy violations and/or misconduct. Knowing how much effort it takes to fire someone, your termination has (probably) been in the works for quite some time. This recent absence is just a convenient excuse for your boss to pull the trigger and fire you.

You’re filing for unemployment benefits? Just so you know, it’s not impossible to qualify for unemployment when you are fired — but it’s not easy. Most states won’t pay unemployment benefits if you were discharged for misconduct.

I have some questions for you, Retail Girl.

  • What’s next? Do you feel angry? Do you want to sue them? Before you freak out, take a deep breath.

I’m sure you are feeling a slew of emotions: anger, embarrassment, fear, shame, etc. I think you should take these emotions and channel them into a two-tiered job search.

  • Find a part-time or full-time job to fill the financial void in your life,
  • and spend some time thinking about your career and your future.

Do you want to deal with this retail shit for the rest of yo’ life? (The answer is no. Retail sucks. Trust me.)


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