Liberty Resources, Inc / Painful, Wrongful Termination of Employment
Please see (attached) complaint letter. Please bear in mind that although I was terminated 5 years ago, the pain of the situation still effects me today, since Liberty Resources claims to be an organization that employs -- and is sensitive -- to its employees with disabilities. I was one of them, since I am hearing-impaired. They have a very high turnover.
I am not looking for any specific outcome (no legal, no major publicity) -- I just want you to know because you will most likely eventually hear from other maltreated former employees.
September 1, 2009
Dear Executive Management:
P lease be advised that this letter is in no way an attempt to reconnect, plead with or establish any contact—either positive or negative—with Liberty Resources, Inc. It is merely to inform you that despite my unjustified, abusive termination, I am established, successful and a strong, known advocate for those with disabilities.
I was hired at LRI in June, 2002 by Leslie Swartley as an administrative assistant. Ms. Swartley was initially cheerful, welcoming and inviting and was quite impressed with my administrative skills and my college degree. Also impressive was the fact that I am a published author and currently hard at work on my second novel. Even upon my hire, however, I was aware that the agency had a high turnover of administrative clerical staff. There were quite a few terminations during my employ.
The workdays went smoothly until a new CEO was hired, Thomas Earle. Like Ms. Swartley, he was also initially welcoming and inviting, appearing very personable. Shortly after Mr. Earle’s hire, employees were informed that major layoffs would be occurring and were inevitable. However, I had received a notice that I did not have to be concerned, as my job was secure.
Major issues later presented themselves. These included that there was insufficient trained on how to do the agency’s filing and how to operate the Braille reader equipment. Two employees from a King of Prussia agency (Michael and Suzzanne) were sent only one time to discuss the Braille reader with me and even then, they did not appear to fully comprehend how to operate it themselves. A similar situation occurred when I was sent to Will’s Eye Hospital for a one day “crash course” on the Braille reader. Surprisingly, staff there also reviewed the sophisticated, intricate equipment without full understanding. Even more importantly, neither day of training was accessible. There were no reasonable accommodations (ex: sign language interpreter) in either instance. I am a medically documented hearing-impaired individual.
Additionally, there was never any formal training on the filing system. Linda Richmond regularly inserted documents into my mailbox with notes demanding that I “please file”. There was no specific order to the documents, which were haphazardly arranged in binders in two large rooms—one on the first floor and the other on the second in a separate part of the building. There was no methodical system, no pattern, no indicators as to how the documents should be filed. I was bombarded with unrelated documents daily.
As time progressed, Ms. Richmond sent e-mails indicating she had observed how “unhappy” I was, but offered no assistance, support, suggestions or training on the filing system. I had informed her that I did not understand how the documents should be arranged. I was expected to know what to do, which, predictably, set me up for failure.
Also, Ms. Swartley informed me that Ms. Richmond had complained to her that I was “reading a paperback” at my desk and “shopping on the Internet.” In reality, I used my lunch breaks as my personal time to read. The so-called “Internet shopping” was actually research on disabilities to extract information for the company newsletter—another massive responsibility that became mine, unexpectedly, with minimal assistance. Had Ms. Richmond approached me professionally instead of assuming I was wasting valuable company time, I would have gladly explained.
Additionally, I was expected to use the Braille reader to transcribe 40 cassette tapes for attorney Steven Gold, despite my requests for more sufficient, accessible training and assistance on what was clearly an unbearably huge project. Expecting me to complete this project with inadequate training and no assistance placed an unreasonable demand on me. When I asked Ms. Swartley for assistance and/ or if the project could be outsourced, her response was an abrupt, “It was already outsourced to us.” Ms. Swartley also regularly blocked my attempts to appeal to Mr. Earle.
In October 2003, Thomas Earle terminated me in a fit of impulsivity and (unexpected), explosive personal anger. He left a very threatening letter in my mailbox, contradicting that I had received a notice the month before that I was in no danger of losing my job. This letter stated his dissatisfaction with my filing and inexperience with the Braille machine. It was obvious that Ms. Swartley and Ms. Richmond had complained. Thomas Earle had no direct contact or involvement with me or my duties during the workday.
Mr. Earle’s diction in the letter was demanding and disturbingly hostile, insisting that I learn the material in thirty days or be terminated. I nervously but respectfully approached him to discuss this and to request sufficient, accessible training and other assistance. Mr. Earle became inexplicably irate. He yelled, “I don’t have time to discuss this—as a matter of fact, why don’t you go clean out your desk?” He also threatened to call the police, although I exhibited no out of control behavior. On the contrary, I was tearful, stunned, hurt and offended by his reaction.
The termination naturally distressed me profoundly. Mr. Earle had obviously abused his power as the newly appointed CEO. I had no history of being a problem or incompetent employee prior to or during his hire. It was assumed that because of Mr. Earle’s high position, he exercised sound judgment and was infallible. On the contrary, his, and the (managerial) behaviors described above, is a poor testament of an agency that reputedly displays sensitivity towards people with disabilities, including in the workplace.
LRI frequently attempts to recruit people with disabilities, encouraging application to the agency. I was qualified, respectful, skilled and a competent employee at all times, but I was wrongfully, unlawfully and abusively terminated. It should not have been assumed that I knew how to operate a Braille reader and/ or a highly unorganized filing system when management themselves were clearly inept at both. The excuse that I was an employee “at will” is weak and ineffective, since failure to provide accessible or adequate training is discriminatory and against ADA regulations.
I relayed that I was hurt, angry and offended by my needless termination through voice mails to management. I had previously requested a post-termination hearing and wished to file a grievance. This was disregarded. Instead of honoring my request or providing concrete reasons for my termination, Mr. Earle contacted Jennifer Will, his colleague who is also an attorney, and threatened to sue me. Ms. Will forwarded an extremely harassing, inappropriate letter, calling me “foul”, attempting to intimidate me and indicating that my termination was “deserved”. Her correspondence was promptly disregarded and returned to her. I had done nothing to warrant losing my job and had been unlawfully, unjustly treated as an employee with a disability—ironically, by managers with disabilities themselves!
I planned to file a countersuit had Ms. Will’s harassment continued. There was no reason for her to contact me. Mr. Earle’s prompting was inappropriate. My anger was justified because my termination was unnecessary, impulsive and was maliciously implemented despite LRI’S standards. I made no threats to anyone. I merely conveyed my anger and pain, as anyone in my situation would. This includes Ms. Swartley, Ms. Richmond and Mr. Earle. No employee is indispensable, including LRI’s executive management. They would have also been infuriated, particularly if their rights had been violated.
Additionally, it is strongly suspected that I was given bad references in my employment search following my termination. At least one agency that strongly considered hiring me claimed to know Mr. Earle directly. Making disparaging comments about a pervious employee is unprofessional and inappropriate. However, I have been quite successful without LRI, secured other employment, and, as previously stated, am now a tireless advocate for others with disabilities.
I have written to countless disability rights agencies and President Obama/ Washington D.C. I have informed him of my experiences in the workplace, citing examples. I relayed the need for more sensitivity, accessibility and resources. This includes adequate jobs that not only claim to uphold disability rights in the workplace, but follow through. I also requested more funding for job training, legal assistance and various other resources. I am enclosing a copy of his response letter.
Finally, it is unfortunate that LRI allowed me to be terminated in such a hostile, impulsive, demeaning manner. I had a mission even back then to advocate for disability rights and to promote more sensitivity to those in a protected class. I had a desire to write for the newsletter and to speak on behalf of LRI at the events in Washington. I would have proved my true dedication and abilities as an eloquent, effective speaker.
It is unfortunate that management did not see me as the valuable, dedicated employee that I was. Instead, management, up to the CEO, chose to act indifferent to my need for sufficient training and reasonable accommodations. Management chose to believe distorted, false perceptions in an effort to impress, support and empower the new CEO. I valued my employment and did nothing to jeopardize it. I am confident of my ongoing mission, valuable skills (including having authored two novels) and friendly, professional workplace—qualities that LRI so obviously lacked.
What occurred to me late in my employment at LRI was painful, but my termination has allowed my success at another employer who could appreciate my true worth. I was truly the victor in this. I have never had any regrets.
And life goes on.
No abusive responses/ correspondence will be accepted or tolerated.
Cc: Washington, D.C.