Undiagnosed medical abnormality costs company an exceptional employee


Earlier this year I started working a temp job with a local company as a Sales Support Associate. That’s just a fancy title for data entry as I assisted electrical engineers with awarding projects and assigning tasks. I also assisted the CFO and accounting department with accounts receivables, and finally, I helped with entering contacts and software licenses. I enjoyed the work and was kept pretty busy much of the time.

The main reason I had been hired on was due to the company transitioning from one type of software to another, which created a backlog of work that needed to be made current. After the first few weeks, the other temp who had been hired on before me had his contract terminated. It was explained to me that the company was keeping me on and letting the other temp go because I was more productive and accurate than he had been. Also, there wasn’t enough work to warrant having two temps.

Near the end of the first three months of the contract, I was asked by the supervisor to go to lunch. During lunch, he asked if I liked the job, did I like what I was doing? I did, very much so, but I also liked the company and my co-workers. He then explained that he had every intention of making an offer for a permanent position as long as the work was available and it was alloted in the department’s budget. Hearing that was kind of exciting, I admit. After all, I had been unemployed and looking for work for the first four and a half months of the year, so to land a temp gig that had a chance of becoming permanent was definitely welcome.

There’s always a learning curve when it comes to taking on new tasks and responsibilities, learning new software and procedures, terminology, etc., so it’s understandable that mistakes are going to be made at some point during the first couple to few months. My coworkers had only been using the new software for a grand total of ten days before my first day at their location, so they were still also learning how to use it and creating training documentation.

Training documentation wasn’t provided so I created my own. My supervisor saw it and asked if he could borrow it to show a few other people in the company. I said sure. After several days, he brought it back and told me that everyone he showed it to was very impressed. He showed it to all of the higher ups and department heads in the company. Made me feel good, to be honest.

Each time a procedure was updated or changed, I would update my documentation. However, there were a few times when there were changes to a process that I was not made aware of until a mistake occurred as a result. Personally, I feel it wasn’t quite fair to put that on me when I hadn’t been included on emails concerning the changes, which was frustrating.

During the first six weeks, I had made an error by awarding the wrong project. The person responsible for training me had gone on vacation and there were two projects with the same name in the software being used. I unknowingly selected the wrong one. It wasn’t discovered for about a week or two after that, and it took roughly 8 people to get things set right. Clearly, I felt awful for the mistake, the time and the resources necessary to correct it. I emailed all involved to apologize for the mistake and to thank them for their efforts.

I’m not sure what other mistake I made 5 months in on the contract because I was never told about it. All I remember is I finished setting up a change order on a project, sent an email to the proper people, and said that the project was ready to be tasked instead of saying it was ready to be converted.

When I returned to work the next morning, I learned that the supervisor had contacted the temp agency and ended my contract effective as of the night prior at 5:30pm – an hour and a half after I left the office for the day. The recruiter told me that the supervisor cited “Memory and focus issues”, which came as a complete shock to me. There was no elaboration on anything. I collected my things, left my badge and walked out the door.

Now, let me fill in with something that did happen during my employment there. One day a couple of weeks before they ended my contract, I was running an errand during my hour long lunch break. While driving on the expressway, there was a hesitation in the car then it didn’t have any get up ‘n go. This happened near the ramp I needed to exit, so I took that and prayed I could at least make it to the bank’s parking lot if the engine was going to quit on me.

I almost made it. The car quit before I could get to the light and turn. A couple of wonderful guys took a moment to push my car off the road and take a look under the hood. There was no oil in it! No warning ever alerted me to the fact that the oil was low and I had checked it about a month before and it was fine. I called work and explained what happened to the girl who answered and told her I would be back as soon as I could there.

Roadside Assistance sent a tow 45 minutes later and I got the car to the dealership. Needless to say, my lunch took two hours. The dealership gave me a ride to work and I immediately made arrangements for a rental through Budget. With that taken care of, I resumed working.

The dealership called the next day and delivered some pretty bad news. The oil had turned to sludge. If we couldn’t produce a receipt showing the last time we had an oil change, it wouldn’t be covered by the 100,000/10 year power-train warranty since we didn’t have our oil changes done at the dealership since the first year we had the car. A new engine would cost us $6,500.00.

Of course, I never thought to keep any receipts so we couldn’t produce them. Now I had to make arrangements to have the rental for a week, then my husband and I had to figure out just how in the hell we were going to either come up with $6,500.00 or buy a new car. Thankfully, my father and his girlfriend helped us out with a down payment for a new car. The process of buying the new car actually took us about two full weeks before it was finally completed.

There was A LOT of emailing and texting back and forth with the dealership, myself, and my husband. While I was still making it to work every day and able to perform my duties, there were times when yes, I was locating information that the dealership needed to provide to the finance company and things like that. Couldn’t be helped.

As mentioned before, I have no idea what they meant by “memory issues”. If it’s because I used the wrong terminology in the email that needed to be tasked ….? In my personal opinion, that’s a pretty lame reason to terminate a contract. If the person receiving the email couldn’t figure it out, I think there may be bigger problems, considering that person has been with the company for a few years and I’d only been there 5 months.

It did worry me, though, being told that I was “fired” for “memory issues”. I took a ton of notes, I asked A LOT of questions. I wanted to make sure I was executing the processes correctly. I certainly didn’t want to make a mistake like I had before when I awarded the wrong project.

A call to my physician was made and we talked. I had fears that perhaps there was a memory issue and the cause was directly related to an accident I had in 1984 that resulted in massive head trauma. Labs were drawn.

The results? I had a severe Vitamin D deficiency, which results in “brain fog”, memory issues, not sleeping well, feeling tired and exhausted all the time, and a few other symptoms. Within the first three days of taking 5,000 IU of Vitamin D daily, I felt so much better. I have to do this for two months, then I will have to take 2,000 IU of it daily for the rest of my life.

I was out of work for a few weeks. Thankfully, an awesome recruiter from a different agency was able to get me an interview with a nearby company and I got the job. It runs through mid-January, but at least I am working while trying to find a permanent position with another company.

How unfortunate that the company who wanted to hire me on permanently, didn’t just pulled me aside and shown concern for my “memory issues”. Perhaps if they had, I would have gone to the doctor much sooner and could have had this turned around within a few days. Instead, they chose to let me go.

Their loss.

If you notice something out of the ordinary with one of your employees, take the time to speak with them privately before you fire them. They may not be aware that anything is wrong.