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Terrible thing my ex-boss said. need help!


leah1321
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Hi,

This story is long and upsetting and is still going on. I will just quickly summarize as I want everyone's opinion and/or support.

I was laid off last week. I am not too upset that I lost the job because it sucked. I got paid nothing to do nothing. It was a work study position through my school, so it is an ADA school thing. Anyway, for the first half hour of our 45 minute conversation, she talked about other stuff, not about my work. I never missed work because of my health. I never complained about how I was feeling. They now claim that I was tired and inefficient because of it. They never said that to me and it is blatantly false. I was tired, but never said a word.

The conversation started with my boss saying she thought I was overwhelmed. I said I was fine and was doing well in school. She then said she thought I had no future in this field (museums) and that I would not be able to get a job because I am too sick. I work very hard in school and have been at work and I never told her what my illness was. She wanted to know why I needed to have a bag on wheels and she wondered if I could ever function in a job if i can't even carry my own bag! She stressed how she thought the only job I would get would be one without benefits, but she volunteered to help me get it. She said she had to let me go when she did because they were doing construction in the building and she was 'worried' for me. She thought I would have trouble with the stairs. I never NEVER complained about this. I am a big girl and took care of it on my own. Lastly, after she let me go for budget reasons and because she had lost the person initially in charge of me, she said something terrible in passing. She told me that I should think about relying on my successful boyfriend for my future. I am a master's student at a competitive program, I think I should be able to rely on myself.

When talking to the head of academic programs today, I was so upset that he just could not understand. He thought she was just trying to help and was misguided, I thought that she was hurtful and what she said was inappropriate and illegal. I know that what she said is against the ADA! I talked to some lawyer friends of mine and they said that her behavior was against the ADA (Americans with disabilities Act). She is both my boss and a representative/employee of my school. She told me I have no future, no future! I was devestated.

What does everyone else have to say? I would love help.

Thanks,

Leah

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I can't help with the legal stuff, but what she said definatly had better be illegal..That is just horrid, I can't believe it. I'll offer what I can and that is moral support and comfort. It's great that you have those lawyer friends and hopefully will be able to pursue something against what was said and the false reasons given for your being laid off. I just cannot get over what she said about depending on your boyfriend. People like that just disgust me more than anything ;):angry: You be sure to stop and try and calm down all you can as you pursue the illegalities (is that a word? :blink: ) because the more rational the better (as you know) Any support at all that I can offer I do. You are a very strong person and she'll get what's coming to her eventually. You take care and hugs and best wishes, once again Im really sorry youve been put in such a position and treated so terribly :angry: *hugs*

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Leah:

Don't let anyone make you feel inferior. You can do or be anything you want to be. This person sounds heartless and obviously has never had a serious illness or a child with one. I don't have any advice for you other than to tell you to use this circumstance to make yourself stronger........don't let her opinion get you down.

I wanted you to know that I would be praying for you..

Linda

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I am not an attorney and have no expertise in the area of personnel, but I do know that what she said was heartless and unethical, at the very least. Clearly she is having some personal problems. I don't know if you can take legal action against her words, but perhaps the layoff. Best wishes however you choose to pursue this, legally or otherwise.

I also know that you DO have a future. From your writing of this and previous posts, I can tell that you are a clear-headed, bright and expressive person, despite your current challenges with debilitating illness.

I am really sorry that you were treated unjustly by a thoughtless person who is supposed to be a mentor.

Katherine

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Other than being totally unprofessional, and incorrect about getting a job without benefits, at the very least she was extremely insensitive. Under group health insurance plans for employers, health questions are not allowed to be asked, so it is totally wrong on her part to say you can't get a job without benefits. Furthermore, you may have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act if you feel that you were laid off due to some perception on your employer's part that you are disabled. The ADA is pretty wide in its scope. You don't have to be what most of us would consider being disabled to qualify under the ADA. Employers are required by law to make a reasonable accommodation for their employee's health concerns. Even if your employer's perceptions about you were totally correct, none of what she described sound to me like grounds for dismissal. The employer has to prove that your disability makes it impossible for you to perform your job, and it definitely does not sound like this is the case for you. In fact, it is the employer's responsibility to accommodate your needs to a reasonable extent to make sure you can perform your job.

I don't know whether you have the desire or the resources to take this situation to an attorney, but if you do you would want to contact an employment atttorney. You will also want to document everything your employer said to you in writing so you don't forget anything over time. You can also contact the EEOC if you are in the United States at www.eeoc.gov. They have the regulations, guidelines, policies, and information about filing a claim if you wish.

I hope that helps, and I'm sorry you went through this.

JR

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Leah, I'm sooo sorry this person was so cruel to you. There's no excuse for this kind of verbal abuse. It must have been dizzying to listen to her hop from one reason for dismissal to another...she doesn't know what she's doing (in any manner of speaking) and she is WRONG WRONG WRONG about you! Of course you have a future--a very bright one at that--and of course you will be able to get a job with benefits ... and what kind of sexist comment is that about finding a "successful" boyfriend to take care of you? Gimme a BREAK!

I don't know whether you will want to pursue any legal action--but it would be good to write down in another place your memory of the conversation. If nothing else, you can look back in the years to come and have a good laugh. (I still chuckle about the fact that a boss said to me 25 years ago that I would NEVER--she shrieked--make it in my field if I didn't improve my handwriting. [desktop computers were just barely considered the norm...funny] It was very injurious at the time, but hey, I showed her--and advanced in my career far beyond where she was when she made the comment. At a different company, of course. But it's amazing both how deep words can cut and also how we can rise above and beyond the place of injury. You will wish one day that you can show this person the heights to which you've taken your life and your career.)

Hold onto the fact that you didn't enjoy that particular job and that you deserve to be doing something that you like and that enables you to both learn and to put your talents to good use. I hope in your next endeavor that you will be surrounded with positive and supportive people.

Take 'er easy,

merrill

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What that person did to you is horrible, disgusting and many more words that I can't post here. I would pursue the legal angle, if for no other reasons than to get her removed so she can't treat others like that, and to make an example of her so others know this is not acceptable under any circumstances. I'm sure there are many, many things going through your mind right now and probably will be for a long time. But don't let it get the best of you - you have waaaaay too much to offer to believe a word of what she said. Whatever you do, don't give in to that.

And for that creature to even suggest that ANYONE should rely on the successes of another person is outrageous!!! It's thinking like that that just keeps the whole cycle of welfare going for generations, and will eventually collapse our country's financial system! I can't believe somebody actually suggested to another person that they should be satisfied with being a freeloader! That kind of thing should only be considered for people who are UNABLE to fend for themselves, not UNWILLING! As long as you feel well enough to handle it and driven enough to pursue it, there is no reason you can't have as much independence as you want.

(Gee, can you tell that moron's comments to you pushed a few of my buttons?)

For whatever it's worth, you have my support all the way. Please let us know how you decide to handle it. But be very careful not to let it fester or create a setback in your progress - health and otherwise.

By the way, do you know that Einstein was told he would never amount to anything? Ha!

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Leah,

How awful! Your ex-boss sounds unprofessional and mean-spirited.

I am a lawyer, but I'm not that familiar w/ the ADA. I'm glad that you have some lawyer friends who seem to know about it. If you can talk informally with people who have experience in this area, you'll get a good idea of the right course of action to follow. As mentioned below, the EEOC is also a good resource.

I agree with Merrill that it might help to write out the details of the incident while it's fresh in your memory. Also, I was wondering whether there is an office in your school that deals with discrimination issues? If not, then it may make sense to go up the chain of command (i.e. your boss's boss's boss) until you find someone that is responsive to your concerns. Hopefully your issue can be resolved if it's reported to the right person. Schools have a reputation to protect, so I would hope they would take an issue like this seriously.

I am sure this is a hassle that you didn't need. Please take care of yourself as you are dealing with this ordeal.

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Just wanted to add my two cents! So sorry this happened to you..it's amazing to me how ignorant and rude people can be. The sad thing is this person probably thought she was being "helpful". I agree with possibly going with the leagal angle..and speaking to reps. at your school. Unfortunatly, things like this tend to get passed around, swept under the rug..ect. My suggestion would be take your story to the newspaper..either your city or school. I believe they would be interested and your experience would reach a lot more people. Good luck..give um' heck!

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This woman seems to be ignorant about chronic illnesses -- and about being polite and decent in general. It's too bad that people make decisions before ever asking the people those decisions affect -- i.e., "letting you go" before asking you if you were actually having any problems climbing stairs. Even if you were, so long as your work performance was adequate, that would have been your problem, not hers.

Even though this woman was less than appropriate and disrespectful, I would caution you to be careful about making a fuss. If you pursue legal action or put anything in writing, be prepared to find work/school elsewhere -- you just never know how that kind of stuff can backfire on you. I don't mean to seem like a wimp or anything, but I have seen these kinds of things backfire -- I work at a newspaper in a city that is home to the state's largest university, and this has happened to a couple professors and lecturers here who had chronic illnesses.

You certainly seem like you are passionate about your school and work. Keep that up.

Amy

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Can't say much. Lucky me, I got food poisoning last week so I am still very tired. I am up because of the nausea, actually. Have class at 9:30 AM too! ugh. Thanks for your support. It means a lot. I met with the head of Academic Programs and he attacked my character even though he thought my grades and professors thought I was a bright student and hard worker. He was listening to the story my old boss' boss told. Ugh again. He regrets saying the things he said. He also admitted that they told him that they fired me because they were 'uncomfortable with me' and that they were afraid to give me harder work because I was tired (never said a word to them). Considering that everyone got mailings, this is obviously a lie. they fired me because I am sick. my brother, a lawyer, spoke with the Academic Programs guy. he said he would try to fix my future to make sure I get another job next semester and a good internship over the summer. I hate being bribed. My brother advised I take the bribe. All I asked for was a formal apology of I am sorry I hurt your feelings. My ex-boss admits most of what she said but maintains that she did it to be nice. She just doesn't get it. She is sorry I feel hurt, but not sorry that she tried to help, or so she says. I am going to meet with the disability expert at my undergraduate institution to ask about what next. i want a future and it is a very small field. I can't antagonize, but I think she should at least be educated. I want so much more, but so did African Americans right after the Civil Rights Act. It takes time and someone willing to sacrifice a lot. I want to be that person, but I don't have the money to live on, the energy to pursue another career or the access to health insurance. I wouldn't want to be forced into depending on someone. I will see what the disability expert says. She is really mad, but usually has constructive answers.

Thanksa again.

Leah

oh no, 5 hours sleep. Ahhhhh. d'oh. stupid food poisoning, stupid nausea that won't go away. :-p

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Leah, Hope you are feeling better from your food poisoning. Be careful not to get too dehydrated as that will set you back and we don't want that to happen.

I am still shocked from reading your story about your non-ADA compliant boss. In fact, I was so angered that I didn't know what to say. My mouth is still wide open from the shock and awe. She certainly did violate the intent, spirit and purpose of ADA.

I guess I would listen to your brother the lawyer as he probably knows better than I.

Keep up your studies and persevere! You will be successful and should not have to depend on anyone for your livelihood. Keep up your fighting spirit! Don't let those insensitive remarks make you feel inferior. You are NOT!!!!

All the best,

Lois

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Leah, when it rains it pours. So sorry you got food poisoning on top of everything you are trying to juggle right now. Another example of how people can be uncaring just to make things more "comfortable" for themselves. Unfortunately, that is not what is important and I am glad your brother made the call for you. Accept the help with future job and go on with your life. Your former boss is the one clearly at fault and she is the one who has to live with that and she is the one who got called on the carpet so to speak. Good luck pursuing your studies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Leah,

I am suing my former employer of over 8 years for something very similar. I have won twice so far, and I am in the midst of a third lawsuit. Put all of your documents together, get an attorney, and go after this person. If she did it to you, she'll do it again. This is your chance to help the next disabled person.

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not only did I have food poisoning before, but now I have pneumonia! It is so rough. I am in the middle of preparing a presentation for tomorrow, but I decided to check the forum. Thanks for your support everyone. I really wanted to get her and I could have won too, but I would have had to quit my program since I would have had to sue my school too. The school bribed me and I got it on tape- the guy I talked to is going to get me a new job and a summer internship. I am furious and I told him that they better start to educate their workers. He said he would contact the numbers I gave (I got that on tape too) and would make steps to educate all the people at the school. I want more and will work with some disability people in NYC to educate. I am also mad because the ex-boss is hurt that I thought she was a bad person. I know she was not deliberately being cruel, but she said a terrible thing. I want her to get that, but I think that she never will because she is just not bright enough to understand much. She was always uncomfortable with me because she thought I was fragile. This is a lame and absurd thing for a 30 year-old to believe. I told the guy to let her know that she should keep her mouth shut around disabled people just to stay safe. He said that they are going to have a bunch of meetings about disabled students because I am the first sick student to fight and not give up. I am the first to demand disability status. They never thought about chronic illness that way but he thought about it and decided that this made a lot of sense. I got somewhere, not where I want to be, but somewhere. I wanted to sue, but my lawyers (brother and boyfriend) said it would be a bad idea. The disability person I talked with also said not to sue but to 'consult.' This is a special case because I did not want to give up my program. Thanks again.

Leah

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