Posted by: mjazzyl | August 17, 2009

The Saga Continues…

Although it’s been a while since my last post, I am sorry to report my battle over unemployment compensation continues. Several weeks ago, I received a notice from the GA Dept. of Labor to notify me of legal action filed by NCF. The good, Christian folks at NCF, seemingly, are bitter over the Board of Review’s decision to grant me unemployment payments so they’ve filed an appeal with the Fulton Superior Court. Unbelieveable!!! Mrs. Poe must be working overtime to wage the company’s fight to punish me for outing their discriminatory practices. NCF discriminates on the basis of race and they’re behaving like victims. It’s outrageous! I am not the first person to suffer such abuse and, I am certain, I won’t be the last.

Posted by: mjazzyl | March 2, 2009

The National Christian Foundation

In Nov. 2008, I lost my job of one year at a non-profit organization. I worked for The National Christian Foundation (NCF), a 501c3 that manages donor-advised funds. Shortly after my separation, I applied for unemployment benefits with the Georgia Dept. of Labor. My claim was quickly denied as my former employer claimed the reason for my discharge was falsification of timesheets. Because the allegation is untrue and was manufactured as a way to get me out the door for complaining about unfair, employment practices and racial discrimination, I filed a complaint with the EEOC in Atlanta. The agency accepted my charge on Dec. 12, 2008.

At the time of my firing, the HR director, Debbie Poe, handed me a separation and severance agreement. In exchange for agreeing not to sue the company for discrimination, I would receive 1 month pay and medical benefits. (Gasp!) When I asked about the receipt of unemployment benefits, Mrs. Poe told me NCF would not block it if I signed the separation/severance agreement.

On Nov. 24th, Mrs. Poe telephoned me to ask if I wanted the payroll coordinator to cut me a check before payroll was submitted prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. I was told the only way to receive a paycheck was to sign the agreement. Since I was offended and outraged by the ridiculous terms of the severance agreement, I informed Mrs. Poe I will not sign it. At the end of our conversation, she asked if I wanted her to send me a Separation Notice—I replied that I did. Several days later, the Georgia Dept. of Labor form arrived in the mail. Mrs. Poe affirmed and certified, with her signature, that the notice was completed and given to me on Nov. 18, 2008. I only received the separation/severance agreement on the 18th. She falsified the Dept. of Labor’s official document!

On Feb. 18, 2009, I attended an appeal hearing at the Dept. of Labor with a DOL Administrative Officer, legal representative from a local Legal Aid office, and Mrs. Poe. I had asked a former co-worker (and IT Specialist at NCF) to serve as my witness. Unfortunately, the administrative officer did not think it was necessary for my witness to participate although I think her testimony would have been helpful. My witness, who also is an African American female, was denied unemployment benefits; Mrs. Poe told the Dept. of Labor she voluntarily quit her job—which is not true.  This termination was the third African American ousted from NCF for bogus reasons; I am the fourth.

During my hearing, Mrs. Poe distorted the truth about my timesheet entries and attempted to submit a computer-generated printout containing log-in information on it. This data, she claimed, was from a database called North Star. The use of NorthStar, at NCF, is to house detailed account and personal information of its donors; it is not a time-management system. Because the log-in data sheets did not have my name on them or other identifying information, the administrative officer refused to enter them as evidence. I testified that I did not use NorthStar, exclusively, to do my work and that I spent several hours on clerical functions (telephone inquiries, Internet research, faxing, making copies, preparing checks for mailing). I frequently logged into NorthStar at different times of the day. At NCF, only timesheets are used to record hours worked for hourly employees. I testified that I did not falsify my timesheets. But Mrs. Poe pressed on with her argument about NorthStar and asked the administrative officer if he wanted her to send a number (assigned to me) at a later date despite being told the data sheets would not be accepted. Through her deceptive testimony about the NorthStar database, the HR director had accused me of falsifying my timesheets nineteen times! I could have passed out as the allegation is absurd and false. The other issue presented involved hours I recorded on my timesheet for Election Day. I thought NCF paid its employees four hours for voting, but the HR director insisted that the policy is two hours.

At the end of the hearing, Mrs. Poe handed me a $25 gift certificate for HoneyBaked Ham! I was speechless. My attorney snatched the certificate out of my hand and gave it back to her, but she followed me into the hallway, placed the certificate back into my hand, and said, “I want you to have it like the food I sent you.” In January, Mrs. Poe had the audacity to Fedex me $300 worth of NutriSystem products. The only thing I could do was walk away in disgust.

On Feb 25th, I received the decision from the administrative officer. He denied my claim for unemployment benefits!!! Can you imagine my shock and horror? The administrative officer’s denial statement said, in part, “the employer utilizes a separate computer system to record sign in time.” I am trying to figure out how the administrative officer arrived at his determination without factual and concrete proof. Needless to say, my attorney and I were surprised by the administrative officer’s decision. I am upset over this entire ordeal as I have been lied to and lied on, by a top official, at a charitable organization.

I gave NCF honest, dependable, and responsible service. The company trusted me to transport millions of dollars worth of grant checks to the post office, but are accusing me of stealing time. As a Christian, I am hurt. I prayed and worshipped with people at NCF. The HR director is the one guilty of falsifying timesheets to cover for religious activities and company retreats on company time. She has cast a web of lies and has used deception to refuse unemployment compensation to people that deserves it.

As far as the DOL, I understand the current, economic recession has placed a burden on its unemployment fund, but I think the agency systematically denies unemployment claims of workers wrongly terminated and those forced to quit. The practice is wrong and it needs to end!

I am goin to fight to obtain my benefits and clear my name; I want to encourage others whose unemployment claim was unjustly denied to do the same. The next step for me is to file an appeal with the Georgia Board of Review. Although my attorney does not think they will overturn my denial decision by the administrative officer (based on what he’s heard from other attorneys at Legal Aid), I am not going to give up. The reason for my dismissal was not about timesheets. If I stole from NCF, they would not have offered me money in a severance agreement. I don’t know of any company that rewards people for stealing from it. I am certain my dismissal occurred because I defended myself against racial discrimination and supported the candidacy of President Barack Obama.

Although I knew being a Christian was a requirement to work for NCF, I didn’t know I needed to be a Republican. The organization is run (mostly) by southern, white men fixated on Republican ideology. I naively thought Christian principles would prevail over political affiliation.

Lastly, I thought working at a Christian charity would be better than working for a secular company—I was wrong! The motivation at NCF is like that of for-profit companies…to acquire money and power then punish whoever doesn’t support those goals.

Posted by: mjazzyl | February 23, 2009

Unemployment Benefits Appeal

Well, last Wednesday, I had my day with the administrator officer at the GA DOL. As I expected, my former employer, NCF, sent their (lying and deceptive) HR director to present a case against my claim for unemployment benefits. I wish you could have been there to witness the performance Mrs. P. gave. It reminded me of that overly, dramatic southern belle (Scarlett O’hara) from Gone With the Wind. At the close of the hearing, Mrs. P. handed me a Honeybaked Ham gift certificate in the presence of the administrative officer and my attorney!!! This gift marked the second offering of food from the HR director. I wonder what’s next…steaks from Kansas City? Stay tuned.

Posted by: mjazzyl | January 28, 2009

Making progress

Today, I *finally* got through the rigorous telephone system at the VA Medical Center to schedule an appointment for medical services. Wow, I feel blessed!!! If you know how painfully, inefficient some customer support workers are at federal and state government agencies, you will share in my excitement.

On the flip side, I am not making progress with the Georgia Dept. of Labor Appeals Office. This agency must have the absolute worst customer service representatives on the planet! Perhaps, they should stand on my side of the counter to see how terrible life is without a job. I would be more than happy to don a DOL vest and assist people that have lost jobs. On local news broadcasts, Commissioner Michael L. Thurmond comes across as concerned and ready to help millions of unemployed, Georgia workers. Mr. Thurmond obviously hasn’t spoken to me because I have been waiting for an appeals hearing appointment for over a month. Yeah, I know, I’m not the *only* person out of work and the DOL’s workload has increased. I wouldn’t need an appointment if the person that denied my claim for benefits had examined it more closely. The problem with your agency, Mr. Commissioner, is that too many of your reviewers *systematically* deny unemployment to fired workers without hearing *both* sides of the FULL story. You have to know a LOT of employers LIE to keep unemployment benefits from former workers. It happened to me! The HR director at The National Christian Foundation, who told me the company wouldn’t stand in the way of my getting benefits, lied in her report to the DOL to keep me from getting benefits. Oh, did I mention NCF is a “Christian” organization? I wasn’t given an opportunity to submit a rebuttal and send in documentation. Noooo, the DOL would rather take the word of an employer than the word of an employee. It’s wrong, Mr. Commissioner! Your agency needs to abolish its shameful practice.

Posted by: mjazzyl | January 22, 2009

President Obama, I wish I could tell you…

…how I became unemployed. I lost my job in November, in part, because I voiced my support for your quest for the presidency. I didn’t lose my job, Mr. President, because the company was low on work or money. I took a stand to defend my civil rights. My former bosses, model conservatives that they are, didn’t respect my defense (or your platform) so they gave me the boot!

After my termination, NCF wanted me to sign a separation & severance agreement agreeing not to sue them for racial discrimination, but I refused!!! For my non-compliance, the company blocked my claim for unemployment compensation with the Georgia Dept. of Labor–an agency that heavily favors employers.

Posted by: mjazzyl | January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009

Oh, happy day!!! I am extremely happy and proud to welcome our *new* 44th president–the first black president- Barack H. Obama. I’ve watched the events of the inauguration for much of the day, and like millions of Americans, was thrilled to witness the swearing in of *our* new commander in chief. I look forward to the changes the Obama presidency will bring to the nation.

Posted by: mjazzyl | December 18, 2008

An un-Christian experience…

About a month ago, my employment at The National Christian Charitable Foundation ended; my former employer has been anything but charitable. I loved my job as a Charity Researcher II and worked hard to perfect my job performance. Unfortunately, for me, some of the Christian folks at NCF did not love or respect *who I am* as an African American. It became apparent (to me and my immediate supervisor) that their perception of me developed from a negative view linked to my cultural identity. Ouch, that hurts! Nevermind that I, too, love Jesus Christ and forget that my job performance was good. Because I spoke out against inequality, unfairness, a violation of my rights, the distorted perception of me, and need for diversity training, you fired me–claiming I falsified my timesheets. False, false, false!!!

Posted by: mjazzyl | December 15, 2008

Unemployment is…

…painful, lonely, and a strange place to be. I lost my job on Nov. 18th and I feel as though it’s been a lifetime. I am both angry and sad. Each day looks the same and I, try my best, to find its meaning. Needless to say, it is difficult searching through countless, Internet job listings and newspaper want-ads because thousands of other people are looking at those same job openings.

Sometimes, I wonder if the jobs really exist. Are these companies pulling our leg? Do they have actual job openings or do they enjoy receiving hundreds (or thousands) of resumes and applications from desperate job seekers?

When you are the unemployed side of the fence, you have plenty of time to think about your life, reflect on its past–present–and future. You wonder why you’re going through such a traumatic experience. You begin to doubt the value of your skills and experience, particularly, when others are holding jobs you know you’re qualified to do. You search the corners of your mind wondering if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. How long will your joblessness last? You wonder how to pick up the pieces of your unemployed self and move forward–into the employed ranks again. You wonder how to reach, deep down, to pull out qualities that will push your resume to the top of the HR pile. You wonder how you’ll stand out among thousands of other qualified candidates and how you’ll convince Mr. or Miss Interviewer *you* are the *right* person for the job. 

But some of us also think about attributes that just might get in the way of acquiring that next job–those tricky things like gender, race, and age. Will the interviewer look beyond these insignifigant details or choose a family friend or acquaintance they are more comfortable with?

How do I move forward…beyond my feelings of despair? Although it’s hard, I am holding on to my faith and trying to keep the demon of fear–at bay. It’s a pesky character!

As a new job seeker, I don’t have friends in high (or low, for that matter) corporate or government places, a direct line to President-Elect Obama, or a Blackberry contact list with former college buddies that know of an available job opening. 

Oh well, to be continued…

Posted by: mjazzyl | December 15, 2008

It’s annoying…

…when you encounter people on the job, in the check-out line, at the movies, on the road, or at a sporting event that are annoying. I must confess I am easily annoyed by people that complain (a great deal) and by those that lie constantly. Unfortunately, the world is full of these two types of people and there is not much one can do to avoid them.

Posted by: mjazzyl | December 1, 2008

Hello world!

I have landed. I am a WordPress newbie. Excited…intrigued by the whole blog experience. I love having virtual access to share my thoughts and musings with the world. Hopefully, in days, weeks, and months to come, you will get to know me. Like, most bloggers, I will share a varied mix of opinions, daily experiences, and perspectives on everything from politics to fashion do’s and don’ts. I possess a variety of areas: classic films, crafting, entertainment, women’s issues, cooking, history, research, and civil rights. I will try, my best, to keep this electronic diary–interesting. Wish me luck!