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Fired special needs therapist denied unemployment

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

A former special needs therapist has lost her bid for unemployment compensation after a supervisor testified that the therapist told students she needed therapy herself because of the way the students behaved. The incident occurred while the supervisor was observing the class.

The therapist worked for Glade Run Lutheran Services, which provides schooling for Pittsburgh-area students with mental health needs. Classes are led by a teacher, an aide and a therapist.

The supervisor testified that after the therapist revealed she was in therapy, one of her students asked why she needed help. She allegedly replied, “Do you see what I do all day?” The supervisor also quoted the woman as telling students on several occasions, “We are stuck in this room together all day.”

Glade Run Lutheran Services concluded the therapist violated a company policy barring employees from revealing personal information. Glade Run officials felt the comments were demeaning to her students.

At her hearing, the therapist claimed not to remember making the remarks. The court, however, sided with Glade Run, which described the behavior as willful misconduct that should disqualify her from receiving unemployment benefits.

Note: This case shows all the signs of employee burnout. Employees in high-stress jobs may need additional support and training to handle the job’s demands.

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