How EDD in California manifests the ‘Peter Principle’ effectively

Going along with a previous blog post on job searches, I decided to add to the madness by sharing the unemployment side of the dilemma and a way to look at the Malcolm Gladwellian  statistics of interpreting unemployment – of which  is really the same as using a Magic 8 Ball.

Unless you have read David Foster Wallace‘s book Infinite Jest, particularly where the stone mason needs to explain to his insurance company the incident with the bricks which led up to his injuries,  you don’t have the sense of humor nor the stomach necessary to appreciate EDD in its current state.

I returned from Kenya on the 22 of December 2009.  In a very brief period of time I was able to access my computer, update my resume and LinkedIn Profile and begin applying for jobs.

Initially I had high hopes as who wouldn’t want some one who recently worked abroad, has a graduate degree, did Peace Corps, has an impressive array of work experience and volunteering. It seemed reasonable anyone would want to hire a competent, enthusiastic about life, educated person.  I have been keeping up the positive attitude as I know it will get me further then actually sharing the sadness and demoraliztion I feel both over being unemployed and the craziness of the job market.  This is me, quoting myself from a previous post.

EDD has determined that I can not collect unemployment for the following convoluted explanation:  Since I gave professional notice to the TEACHER SUBSTITUTE SERVICE (I am not putting in the company name to protect them from embarrassment of how ridiculous they are!) about taking a job in Kenya, taking the job and then returning, I can not collect. In fact, because I was professional and asked if there would be summer work, and they said no, schools close 15 June 2009 and I calculated in my head that schools do not open before 5 August 2009 when I was leaving for Kenya I decided to be professional and write a letter of resignation (not knowing being professional would later be a horrible problem).  Since I ‘resigned’ for good and valid and professional reasons, this resets some clock with EDD which means that I had to earn $1500 from June 1, 2009 to June 12, 2009 (simply not possible unless I had a real job paying more than $120/day and worked 7 days a week). So, not only am I not entitled to unemployment, the money I received, while continuing to look FOR ANY JOB is considered an overpayment – i.e. it would have been preferred by EDD that I lie and never do a resignation.  I want to blame my parents for NOT teaching me how to be deceitful but it just seems so wrong.

According to the TSS people I chose to take a job which would pay less or be more inconsistent….in other words, since TSS could not offer substitute teaching jobs from 15 June 2009 until Labor Day 2009, it would have been better to lie, stay on unemployment until I left for Kenya. So, I sent a copy of the contract to EDD as I actually believe in being honest and not making up stories.  In addition, TSS apparently has a touch of the Nostradamus going on because they knew, before I  or anyone in the known universe did, that the job I signed a two year contract for (and actually was willing to stay 3-5 years at) was going to end in five months.  Of course, the Nostradamus was AFTER I returned – they did not have the insight to share with me before I left the country. In other words, TSS does not want to pay out any unemployment so they decided to try mysticism on the EDD.

Furthermore, I was so honest to the EDD, I went so far as to tell EDD my forwarding address and filled out the papers and mailed them out to let them know my power of attorney – my father in Des Moines, IA.  Go figure how that thickness of paper trail escaped EDD for a long time and in December 2009, they managed to find me and mail me paperwork that I had been ‘overpaid’ at some point in the past to the tune of $550, which they could provide no documentation for.  Now, to make matters worse (I know you are not laughing yet), EDD decided that retroactively I owe them $1330 because of the latent Nostradamus effect from TSS which indicates I gave them professional notice of ending my employment by 15 June 2009 (which gets back to the point that there would be no summer employment).   In otherwords, TSS is claiming they knew when I gave my professional notice in June 2009 that it would not work out.  I sure wish they had shared this premonition with me.

So, I have again appealed to EDD to re-evaluate the whole situation using real facts and actual documents (I was not even able to get half time work out of TSS as the work did not exist) including the paperwork they show which indicates my work hours when I was collecting unemployment.

I hate to sound so logical about what I am stating except for the fact all of this is on a computer system and anyone who chose to do the labor could find all the said paperwork, put it in order and realize that at no point was I trying to game the system or lie.

Oh, by the way, The Peter Principle is as follows:

The Peter Principle book has attained such renown that The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent.” … “In a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their level of incompetence,” or, as Dr. Peters Principal explained more simply, “The cream rises until it sours.”

All this being said, is it any wonder that at the height of unemployment in California, levels not seen since the 1930’s, TSS had to run ads on Craigslist for subs?  It would seem that TSS practicing predictive  (after the fact!) mysticism and EDD not being able to follow a paper trail a mile long and inches thick qualifies for exemplification of  The Peter Principle by any stretch.

Update:  Some tax dollars were used so I could go to an administrative law judge on appeal. The administrative law judge stated I acted the way a reasonable person would act and I was awarded my unemployment and do not owed EDD anything. There is a 20 day wait though as the other side can file an appeal.

Further update: In August 2010 I took a job with a business (for profit – owned by an individual and is an LLP, African American female to boot) to provide ‘after school services’ at public schools on the government dime – some one ‘knows how’ to do grant writing, in other words.  Although I suspected there were issues with the company based on a number of small problems such as calendaring training with more than 48 hours notice, I took the job in hopes I could offer up something to this fledgling business which was trying to grow. 

 Within two weeks I realized the owner of the company had power/control issues beyond normal and appropriate, had hired some employees well below the minimum qualifications to do the job well and could not manage to sort out things such as what to do in an earthquake or fire emergency after school so I began to seriously question the wisdom of staying with this job and the potential train wreck ahead as I actually have a teaching credential.

As I was internally debating the merits and cons of the job (I was far too embarrased to admit to family and friends I was working for such a sham), things reached a point at which I was not willing to jeopardize my teaching credential (in fact, any logical being would have seen through).  I was asked to make cupcakes with students using eggs – prepare the batter on a Friday and refrigerate until possibly Wednesday when there would be time to bake said batter for an ‘experiment’ on how baking powder is a leavening agent. Never mind that baking powder has a ‘window of opportunity’ once activated (and it is not even 12 hours) nor the fact that I had no knowledge of the refrigerator being adequately sanitized after having set vacant all summer nor the fact that we had just gone through a crazy salmonella scare in CA…..this is what I was TOLD to do and ‘the chain of command’ had spoken (part of this chain was a recent college grad from Cal Berkeley with a BS in Biology).  

I resigned. I did not contact unemployment as I had figured I had not earned enough in six weeks to obtain unemployment.  The owner of the company contacted unemployment to state what  a lying, deceitful person I was filing for unemployment (you see the problem here). Unemployment contacted me – which in the State of CA is unheard of – unemployment tracking some one down to give away money??? 

I submitted 11 pages of e-mails, including the one where the business owner even offered to recommend me to another job she knew about (which pretty much flies in the face of me being lying and deceitful unless she likes to align herself with those types of people).  EDD stated I had the right to unemployment. I filled out the paperwork and began to collect.  You can imagine my shock when EDD then sent me another letter stating the same person who contacted EDD was now in disagreement and wants an administrative hearing about me collecting unemployment.  Reminder: I never applied in the first place, she made the contact.

So, I am waiting for the appropriate paperwork from the administrative courts yet again to go sit through another hearing about employer logic. 

If this is not a total waste of tax payer money and no one can see the issue, it exemplifies why CA is a disaster. Furthermore, it makes me wonder what one has to do to tell a lie – the truth is far to ugly.