MIAMI (CBSMiami) – About 100 city of Miami Beach employees are on edge after receiving a letter of the city’s intent to terminate their employment for failing to show up to work after Hurricane Irma hit.
“Everybody’s in a panic now because they don’t know what’s going to happen to them either,” said city of Miami Beach employee Yvonne Sepulveda, who received the letter. “It’s cruel and it’s very humiliating to all of us.”
The letter reads, in part: “The City is currently under civil emergency conditions due to Hurricane Irma and ALL City employees were required to return to work on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 unless instructed to do so earlier. You were required to be present on September 11, 2017 but failed to report to work.”
“It’s very scary because we depend on our jobs,” said Sepulveda.
Sepulveda says there are several reasons she didn’t show up that day. She says the city only required essential personnel to report to work, something the parks and recreation customer service representative does not consider herself to be.
She says the city did not notify her she needed to be at work but even so, she could not make her way to Miami Beach which was under a mandatory evacuation until a couple of days after the storm.
“It was impossible to hit the road. I mean you couldn’t drive here. This was closed. Only residents and only people with city vehicles could go through,” said Sepulveda.
The 58-year-old says because of a documented family medical leave approved by one of her supervisors, she did not return until September 18th.
“He told me, ‘No problem. You’re fine because we didn’t even have electricity here. Don’t worry. You’re covered. You’re fine,'” said Sepulveda.
But one week later she received the letter the city of Miami Beach refers to as a “pre-determination letter” sent to about 100 employees considered to be “essential” personnel needed in the event of an emergency.
The city of Miami Beach released a statement, saying, in part: “It is not our intention to terminate any employee who was facing a life safety situation or demonstrates an inability to return to work. For these employees, the letter is rescinded and no discipline is given. We anticipate that most employees will not be terminated, although some other form of discipline may be appropriate.”
“I’m not going to let them go through with this. I mean I’m going to go up to the highest level. I don’t care what I have to do but I’m not going to lose my job because they wanted me to come back one day after the hurricane,” said Sepulveda.
Sepulveda has a meeting scheduled with HR on Thursday.
CBS4 reached out to the city and were told if she had approved leave by her supervisor the letter would be rescinded.