Please excuse confusing title, the situation falls under several categories, and IS absurdly confusing...
Last month I suffered a series of blows at work: First, I was the target of a theft allegation(entirely without merit, lacking evidence or proof of any kind)and singled out as the sole focus of 'investigation' which stemmed from it. Then, still with no justifiable basis for this decision, I was suspended for three days, and ultimately terminated on day three (when I was supposed to be returning to work- and contesting suspension).
I'll try to summarize this overly-detailed, multi-layered drama as much as possible:
I work(ed) in Adolescent Mental Health (trauma/abuse; addiction; juvenile corrections) in a Residential Treatment Facility. The alleged theft was 2-4 pills of a controlled medication (belonging to a kid/resident).
I was STUNNED by the accusation, even by being included in suspect pool, as (at the time) I was not certified in medication administration & had limited access to the med cabinet, while other therapists/staff administered daily. (Although everyone is aware of location & has keys).
This drug-related allegation was particularly offensive and detrimental to me as I am also involved in AA sponsorship & addictions counseling (outside of work) and had made my status in recovery (5 yrs continuous/alcohol, not pills) known to staff and residents because I thought it was viewed as an asset- several kids with addiction issues had opened up to me when previous attempts had failed.
Immediately, I was fairly certain that my supervisor / program director was at the root of these allegations because she has always had a problem with me and truly does make me the scapegoat each chance she gets, it's very soap-opera-extreme psychotic behavior of which everyone was aware.
Allegation turns to being asked to submit to a BLOOD (drug) AND POLYGRAGH TEST. I am fully cooperative & say I will "take any test they throw at me" (not my most professional statement, but I was overwhelmed with emotions at the time). This willingness turned to suspicion when I learn that NO ONE ELSE, staff/residents included, is being asked to submit to anything.
**Oh! crucial piece of info: during the time in which they claim theft occurred, I was working with a relief (temp) staff who happens to be the daughter of the woman who owns the entire organization, i.e.- the top boss. During that shift she (relief staff/owner's daughter): left the house unattended with residents inside/outside/all over; while office was unlocked (location of med cabinet) AND KEYS TO MED CABINET WERE LEFT (by her) IN THE EXTERNAL LOCK... granting free access to all meds. Had anyone else done any one of these things they would have been fired on the spot. I told supervisor but it was entirely dismissed/deemed irrelevant.
But back to requests for various tests... Despite that incident which provided equal opportunity to all, I was the only one singled out for excessive range of tests. I confronted my (other, not the one who hates me) supervisor with this, asking point blank if my status in recovery/as an alcoholic didn't factor in. She admitted that the supervisor who hates me had introduced the theory, i.e.- I used to drink so I must be an addict, therefore I must be a thief/liar/someone who would jeopardize the safety & well being of kids (that I was very close with and cared tremendously for).
Apparently no one else protested, as they were just relieved to not have it fall on them, and I was suspended for 3 days.
However, b/c I'd made such an issue of being singled out for testing, they decided to make everyone who worked any of those shifts in question take a UA/drug test on the last day of my suspension.
My suspension, by the way, was justified by claiming that 1-2 pills had gone missing on the Thurs when I worked, and then ANOTHER 1-2 disappeared on Sat of the same week (Sat was the shift when relief staff left keys in med cabinet/house unsupervised, not a huge shocker that something went missing!)Even then it didn't explain why I was the only one suspended, as I was one of five staff working those days (nothing happened to other four), but additionally, I learned that my co-worker had admitted to not doing the med count on Friday, thereby making it impossible to determine when the pills first went missing (Thurs-Sat, ALL staff worked during that time, 80% worked more shifts than me).
(THIS IS THE END, REALLY!)
All staff members went to take drug test as a group/during shift, it was the last day of my suspension so I did not go with them, as obviously I was not at work.
Here is where I AM ACCOUNTABLE/AT FAULT: My supervisor left a message the night before the UA that I had to go to testing facility by 3pm the following day. I had gone to stay the night in a different county (hour away from Denver) for a family event, did not drive my car and ultimately ended up being late coming back to take the drug test. This was my fault.
HOWEVER, I called/texted my supervisor to update NUMEROUS TIMES (2:30- driving back; 3:00- back in city; 4:00- AT FACILITY, TAKING TEST, etc.) with no response. I left a msg saying if facility was closed at 3 I would pay to take somewhere else (they did not close until 6pm, deadline was company imposed and bore no relevance on detection time or anything else).
Ten mins after leaving the facility, having taken the drug test, my supervisor called to terminate me, citing the fact that I was late ("missed the deadline") even though I protested that it did not affect sample being sent to lab with others, detection time... anything!
I realize that (A)- I was late, and should be punished accordingly, only not with immediate termination (esp as tardiness has never been viewed as a major issue before, staff is frequently late and I have never heard of anyone being formally punished for this) and more importantly (B)- my employment was AT WILL and she could have fired me for my parking job at the drug testing facility, I think actual termination is unfair but not 'unlawful termination'.
Three weeks have passed, my test came back negative, yet I learned that (enter slander) the staff NOT ONLY TOLD THE KIDS THAT I WAS FIRED FOR STEALING MEDICATION, knowing full well I did not (they received my results), which really upset many of them who "thought they could trust me" and I turn out to be some thief who "abandoned them" (a few AWOL'd from facility, they are easily re-traumatized) but I also received a text from a former employee who was fired shortly after I began (we were friendly) that read "I heard you were stealing... or is it slander?". A current employee had apparently passed that on to her, and God knows who else...
I am certain it will be impossible for me to get another job (already broke) and am very conflicted, confused, mostly still devastated and lost! I am likely leaning towards legal action for bias suspension (without cause) and allegation/slander, if these are even applicable.
So if anyone has any legal advice RE: discrimination for recovery as protected status (ADA/Rehab Act), IF protected...
ANY LEGAL; EMPLOYMENT; COACHING; "GET OVER IT"; WHATEVER ADVICE AT ALL, IT WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!
***This is the longest thing I have ever written -Masters thesis included- in my life, I apologize for the rambling if anyone actually made it to the end... doubtful.