It Happened to Me: My Former Boss Is Trying To Slut-Shame Me Into Forgoing Unemployment Benefits

Why would they include this on a report to the department of labor, in what is sure to remain a permanent and possibly public record? I believe they intend to use it to shame me into withdrawing my claim for benefits.

Sep 6, 2013 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

I started working for the company in November 2012 after a six-month stint of unemployment that started when my prior company shut down. Because I was working as a contractor, I was not entitled to any unemployment benefits during those six months, so as you might guess, I was pretty desperate.
 
At first, I liked working there. The environment was very laid back, and because they had gotten so far behind without having an admin assistant, I was able to work through the learning curve quickly with little supervision.
 
As the months went by, things began to change. The constant political rants began to get to me. Racist comments were being thrown around constantly. I found I was constantly being blamed for little things that had nothing to do with me.
 
Walking in 2 minutes late resulted in a day or more of passive aggressive iciness. I left for a previously scheduled two-day vacation, and came back to a written warning stating that I had failed to remind my boss that someone else was going to be off work during one of the days I was gone. Not to mention that all absences were clearly marked in the shared Outlook calendar.
 
Things came to a head in July when they decided they wanted me to make telemarketer-type customer satisfaction surveys. "On a scale of one to 10, how timely was bla bla bla?” You know, the kind of phone calls everyone loves to get, especially busy project managers.
 
I couldn't do it. I've been under the care of a psychiatrist for 8 years for depression, and I've spent years working to overcome shyness and anxiety in social situations and in particular on the phone. I was in college before I could call and schedule a doctor's appointment.
 
I was nauseated, shaking and nearly in tears at the thought of doing this. I proposed other ways of doing surveys -- email, regular mail. They seemed hell-bent on doing them over the phone just because it upset me so much. Finally, I came in on a Monday and the office manager asked, "Are you going to do this?"
 
"I can't," I said, shaking.
 
She printed up my termination paperwork then and there. At the time it was just me, the office manager, and the president of the company that worked in the office. The president signed the termination and didn't say a word, or look at me once, as I packed up my things, crying. 
 
My boyfriend picked me up and we went to breakfast. We talked about how this would end up being a good thing, how I had hated it there. I had been actively seeking another job, but the prospect of unemployment was frightening. I lived paycheck to paycheck.
 
Unemployment benefits came through without much trouble. I told the DOL staff the circumstances under which I left, and they agreed with me. However, yesterday I received a notice in the mail stating that my employer was appealing the decision. As I sifted through the 20+ pages of paperwork, I didn't see much that disputed my side of the story.
 
And then, at the bottom of the page, where the employer states their reason for appealing, it said: "After the employee left, pornographic pictures (full frontal nudity titled blablabla) were found on her computer." It was a total non sequitur to the question being asked:“If the employee quit because his/her job duties were unsuitable, could the job duties have been changed in any way?”
 
I nearly fell over. The "pornography" that she was referring to was a scrapbook-type document that my boyfriend had created telling the story of our first few months together. It was 8 pages long, with 2 rows of pictures about 1" tall on each page. My boyfriend had emailed it to me one day while I was working, and I had not known the content when I opened it. When I realized that my naked breasts appeared on the second page, I immediately closed and deleted it.
 
 
image

My fellow porn star and I.

 
They would have had to look quite thoroughly, after seeing that it was obviously personal, to determine any "pornographic" nature. The thought of my former boss poring over it is just really gross. 
 
The document itself is pretty innocent. I'd have no problem with my grandmother seeing it. Yes, you can see some parts. Sexual activity is mentioned (not seen). But we're 29 and madly in love and this was clearly meant for private enjoyment. Obviously this isn’t the kind of thing one should have saved on a work computer, but I didn’t know that before opening it. I deleted the file and I still don’t know how they found it.
 
Regardless, why would they include this on a report to the department of labor, in what is sure to remain a permanent and possibly public record? I believe they intend to use it to shame me into withdrawing my claim for benefits.
 
I'm not going to let them. Let there be a public record, my boyfriend and I took naked pictures and had lots of sexy times! I never intended for the document to end up on my work computer. This is exactly what I’ll be telling the DOL at the hearing that will take place in the next few weeks. I’ve also learned a very important acronym for future romantic communiques: NSFW.