Until Oct. 1, 2017, I worked for Gannett's design studio in Nashville.
Almost four years ago, I suffered a brain seizure (or a brain bleed, depending on the doctor). I reported this to my supervisor, who now works for Gannett elsewhere, and her assistant, who was promoted into her position. Neither wire desk chief nor her assistant reported this to Human Resources. In the past four years, I have recovered to about 90 percent of my former skills and abilities.
Then Gannett closed the Nashville design studio, laying off a third of the staff, including me, and reassigning others. What they left those who were not being rehired/reassigned to the 3 remaining studios -- about 25 of us -- was a mess. Ten bean counters working in a room for a thousand years could not have come up with this plan. First, Gannett has tied any "severance" pay to unemployment benefits.
Under the law, a company can now do this under rules for "transitional pay programs," which is what the company is doing. "Transition pay" is what is given when you subtract your unemployment pay from the former weekly pay total. Gannett pays the difference. So to get any "transition pay," a layoff victim must file weekly updates with the state to get unemployment benefits.
Without qualifying for state unemployment insurance, the "transition pay" of one week per year worked DISAPPEARS. Gannett doesn't have to pay it and can drop you from the program. I'm entitled to 5 weeks of "TPP." So if my supervisors had reported my illness, perhaps Gannett would have been prevented from laying me off under the ADA. I did my job FOUR years after the brain seizure, no one other than the two supervisors knew of it, and I even won an annual in-studio award for catching errors in stories -- called the "Eagle Eye" award.
All of our client on-site newspaper editors I worked with have volunteered to provide references, and everyone was satisfied with my work. Or I could have resigned under federal disability laws and assistance. Now I'm faced with reams of paperwork and memos on how to apply for benefits. I can deal with that but not the company's inconsistent information.
I don't yet have the "final paycheck" with info used to filing for unemployment. So I can't file before the deadline for continuous pay benefits. The company also paid a small sum in my checking account on a Friday opposite usual pay days, with no explanation. Is it unused personal time off?
If so, this sum is too small. Or will the unused time be added to the final paycheck? And when do we submit the application for unemployment? Oct.
1, the final day? Oct. 8, the final day in the "waiting period" before unemployment kicks in?. Or Oct.
13, the day of the final paycheck with the "waiting period" pay and any unused time off pay? Who knows? Hopefully, my less-than-perfect brain can figure this out. I've got 22 pages of instructions, plus 3 booklets and at least 3 websites, to guide me through this seventh circle of ***.
But not to fear! This is Gannett. The rules and procedures will change next week.
They always do! All they've done is provide