Was Fired Unfairly

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Hi there. My name is Joshua and I currently live in Louisville, Kentucky. I feel I was treated unfairly during a termination at my former employer. I was a flight attendant with a company named Compass Airlines which is wholly owned by Trans States Holdings. Compass is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota which is where I actually technically worked at (most airline crew members commute into their bases).

Now because I have a lot to say and I'm limited on how much I can write, I'm gonna have to post this in two parts.

In February I was working a flight with an extremely light load. For those of you familiar with airplanes, Compass flies the Embraer 175 which seats 12 first class and 64 coach passengers, a total of 76. Anyway, we were required to do a weight and balance of the aircraft, which means totaling the amount of passengers in each "section" of the airplane. On this particular flight, I decided to get creative and perform my weight and balance involving the passengers help. I asked them to help me count off in each section to make it fun. Of course there were a few people who did not seem to want to get involved but I really didn't "force" it upon them but the ones who knew what was going on seemed to enjoy it. After I finished some people were curious as to what I was doing, so I simply explained the purpose of the weight and balance.

A few weeks before this flight we had started using these machines called the "M2" to be able to use credit cards for onboard sales. The company had sent out memos about the M2 and its operation, as well as what to do when the device is not functioning. Well, on this particular flight, I discovered the printer was not printing anything. It was a laser printer so I could not replace the ink; it was defective. So policy was if the M2 is not functioning to write it up. Then, do not advertise any on board products and if a passenger asks for a for-sale item, hand it to them discreetly. So upon discovering the M2 printer was not printing right, I figured that a defect. Although it was Delta's (the airline we were contracted to fly for) policy to not give a customer a receipt unless they asked for it, I believed the printer not printing to be legitemately defective because not only could I not print receipts for customers who may request one, but I could not print out a close out report for myself to keep a copy of. Instead, I wrote the item up as defective and used the manual papers. The machine was fairly new to me so I thought that was the best solution.

Now I admit I did make one mistake, and that is that I approached a group of passengers I felt were enjoyable to be working with, and I made it public that the M2 was not working and told them if they needed anything to let me know and I would take care of them. Some of them just smiled and laughed, but when it actually came time for our in-flight service, none of these passengers actually took me up on my offer. Only 2 or 3 people actually requested alcohol, and none of these people had heard me announce that I would be comping items. These passengers tried to hand me their credit cards, but I refused to take them as the machine was technically not functioning. IN fact, one guy requested a receipt as he handed me the card, and I just told him the machine was not functioning and that I would comp him a drink.

On the E-175 there are two pilots and two flight attendants. I of course was working the main cabin. When I wrote the M2 device up, I told the flight attendant working in first class of the defect, and she agreed we should write it up. The procedure we were told to follow when the device was not functioning was to report it to the flight attendant in first class, then for he or she to report it to the pilots. Well, that's exactly what we did. We reported it to the pilots and had put a huge "DEFECTIVE" tag on the device so that maintenance would be able to see the device needed to be replaced and fixed.

This flight was on a Friday. The following Monday, I received a phone call from my in-flight supervisor requiring me to attend a "mandatory meeting" before my next assigned flight the next day. I honestly had no idea what the meeting was about, and it did not even occur to me that it would about this particular flight.

Compass flight attendants elected to be represented by the Association of Flight Attendants. Though the union was voted in, the contract is still being negotiated at this time, so that makes us employees at will. However, that does not mean that the AFA cannot offer assistance. Anyway, before my meeting, I ran into some AFA representatives in our crew room and I informed them of the meeting, and they informed me that since we had no contract they could not go in with me, but that if I felt uncomfortable at any time during the meeting that I could come out and refer to them for advice.

I went into the meeting and the in-flight supervisor along with a member of management informed me that a "Delta executive" had been on the flight sitting around this group of people I announced to about the M2 and he had written in about the incident. He explained how I performed my weight and balance and how I had stated I would be offering items "for free." When they read the quotes to me, I felt like my words had been twisted around. This was the only write-up for the incident, however, because it was a "credible" source, they were quick to believe what they wanted to believe.

I explained everything to them. I told them I had performed my weight and balance getting the passengers involved because we were taught during a customer service class to engage our passengers, and I thought this a great way to break the ice. I admitted to them it may not have been a good idea, but I was experimenting and I had not done it on any other flight. They then stated I had not "performed my duties." I disagree. Nowhere in our manual did it say you couldn't do the weight and balance that way. And as for me not performing my duties, well the aircraft cannot leave until they have their weight and balance numbers in, and obviously we took off because I handed in the paper work to the pilots.


As for the M2 situation, I explained to them about how the printer was not functioning, however they reminded me of Delta's policy that receipts were not required and that I still should have collected sales. I told them I now understand that. The device was new and that next time I would know how to exactly operate the M2. And I told them them the fact that I announced it public was a huge mistake and I realized what I did. However, I mentioned to them that I had only comped a few items and I followed the proper procedures for paperwork.

After the meeting, they informed me I was going on unpaid suspension, and from there they collected my company ID and flight attendant manual and told me a decision would be rendered by Friday. I immediately called my AFA reps and informed them of what happened, and they told me to write an email to both women rexplaining my actions and also reitirating what a good employee I was. ALso, she asked at any time during the meeting if they informed me I had the right to step out and speak with an AFA rep if I needed to. . and of course I answered "NO." They did not inform me of this right.

By Friday of that same week, I finally received a phone call and on the phone the in-fligh superivisor stated that they found my actions to be "purposeful" and their course of action was "termination" because of "theft and dishonesty" and that "nothing in my record indicates a lesser disciplinary action." This made no sense to me because I have never called in sick or had a missed flight. I also had never had passenger write ups. In fact, I had plenty of passenger compliments. Anyway, she informed me they would be sending via FedEx and official termination letter and information on COBRA which would arrive Monday.

Monday came and the letter never showed up. It's March 14 and I was terminated on February 18 and my letter still has not shown up. Anyway, mu union suggested I go to EEOC and file complaint however EEOC could not do anything since there was no discrimination. They did refer me to NELA and suggested hiring an attorney. So far no responses form any of the NELA attorneys.

I applied for my unemployment in Minnesota and was approved. In the approval letter, they stated how applicants are not eligible for benefits if the applicant was terminated for employment misconduct, however, "a single incident with no significant negative effect on the employment is not employment misconduct. The applicant was discharged during the week befinning 02/13/2011 because the applicant violated a company policy or did not follow instructions or procedure. However, the applicant's actions were not employment misconduct because the violation or failure was not significant or it was unintentional. The applicant made an announcement state the M2 was not functioning and that he would be able to offer items complimentary. The violation was not serious, or it was an error or omission in good faith."

Now I know I have explained a lot but what I am looking for is advice. I am not sure what to do. I have felt so helpless at times. I thought the union would be able to assist, but they have been so busy with negotiations I have barely heard from them lately. It seems Compass has been firing people for the most ridiculous reasons. It is starting to infuriate a lot of people. Everyone I know has found my reason for being fired to be quite outrageous and I have been encouraged to take action. In fact, the AFA president believes the accusation of "theft and dishonesty" to be slander due to the fact I really didn't take anything and I didn't at all lie about anything. They were stating the theft was because I gave drinks out to people and dishonesty was the fact that I stated the machine was broken (which is was. . . how is that "lying?")

I also found out that the AFA president has spoken with an in-flight manager about the incident and the woman told her it was a "Trans States executive" who wrote in. Now wait a minute. . . didn't they say it was Delta during the meeting? Delta and Trans States are two TOTALLY different companies. Also, she stated to the manager the fact they should just coach me on the issue and give me a warning, however, the manager said they had a "zero tolerance policy" . . .about what exactly?

I feel I was also treated unfairly because I don't know who my "accuser" is. If it was a passenger it would be one thing but a manager from your parent company is another. Why couldn't this executive introduce himself and explain to me the policies and maybe I should try things another way? Was it his goal to get me fired? I feel it's not fair because he does not know me and the fact that he decided to go behind my back and report me rather then approach me discreetly and speak with me makes me feel like he did not care. I honestly was a good employee and I feel this one incident is no reason for me to get fired. I know companies have the right to terminate employees at will, but a line has to be drawn eventually.

I just do not know what to do. I do not have a lot of money to afford a lawyer since I'm receiving unemployment benefits and I have bills to pay. Even though the EEOC was unable to help, the representative I spoke with there agreed the termination to be "stupid," even though she informed me of employee at will laws. But everyone around me has encouraged me to try and find someone who may be able to help.

I'm looking for advice on what I should do? Should I find a lawyer and if so who can I trust? And how can I afford it? Is my incident even a viable case at all? I know that it is detailed but I appreciate any help from anyone. And if anyone has any questions feel free to ask as well. I'll be able to tell you any details I may have left out.

I just want to add in Compass Airlines was a joy to work for while we were wholly owned by Delta Airlines. However, after being sold to Trans States Holdings in July, the morale at the company went down. In January when our new insurance policies took effect, we were all without any information on the new policies. And I had to go to the doctor for a medical issue and I had no idea how to find my insurance. I was also never informed of my dental insurance policies. There are many things that this company has failed at and a lot of the employees there are very unhappy.

Once again, I do appreciate anyone taking the time to assist me. I look forward to discussing this with the many legal experts of this website.
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You'll be lucky if any of the volunteers here will read this novel. Cut it down into a single post with just the pertinent details. There's a reason there is a limit to the length of a single post.

However, after reading your opening line, you do understand that being fired "unfairly" gives you no legal recourse, correct?
You haven't been mistreated or fired unfairly.

You've simply been terminated.

You violated company policy.

You were terminated for doing so.

I see no cause of action on which you can bring any reasonable legal action.
You could get everyone from Louisville to Boston to agree that you were fired unfairly (though I'm not sure I agree you were). Unless you were fired ILLEGALLY, you have no recourse. And while there may be two minds about whether you were unfairly fired, I'm not seeing anything that says you were ILLEGALLY fired unless your union contract was violated, and if that were the case I suspect your union would be much more involved.
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