Epilogue: The appeal
After I left the ship, I stayed in close contact with Bernhard, the hotel director, and my manager Matt. I also reached out to my first T&D manager, Gary Aitken, for assistance in the appeals process. Both Matt and Bernhard were quite busy and had very limited internet access, so they were not able to help me much. Below is our only correspondence:
May 4, 2014 – Sorry to keep bothering you. Something that really bothers me about the entire masters hearing and may affect an appeal… My manager and I were only informed of my right to have a witness present five minutes before the proceeding began. Everyone whom I could request was ashore and could not be reached last minute. At the beginning of the hearing I never waived my right to have a witness present. In fact, I stated that I was extremely uncomfortable not having a witness present and my only reservation was that I didn’t want to waste everyone’s time waiting for my witness to come. So the master just barreled over me and began the proceeding anyway. I feel like my right was completely violated and it was done so that the Master could dismiss me in time to get off the ship in FTL. It wasn’t a hearing, his mind was already made up before I walked in the room. The fact that he didn’t head the advice of all the senior staff who recommended against my dismissal seems to be evidence of that. So what was the point of the hearing? What is the point of my rights?
May 7, 2014 – Matt, would it be easier if we communicated through email…?
May 12, 2014 (1:28pm) – Hey man, I’ve asked HR manager if I can give you what you’re asking for, and he’s informed me that you have to go through the HR team officially for any type of company documents.
May 12, 2014 (1:28pm) – okay, who do I need to contact? thanks for checking by the way
May 12, 2014 (1:29pm) – No problem. I’ll get the person’s email.
May 12, 2014 (1:30pm) – thanks, man. if its easier, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And that was literally the last time I ever heard from Matt Ducharme. I later contacted Matt on July 20th just to see how he was doing and let him know I had completed my appeal. I contacted him again on August 2nd and sent him a copy of the appeal I wrote. The next time I looked for Matt online, I realized that he had blocked me on Facebook. He didn’t delete his profile – if I logged out of Facebook, his profile was still there. He had just blocked me – all our correspondence said “Facebook User” instead of his name, and I could no longer see his profile when I was logged into Facebook.
Why did Matt block me? Was he under some kind of instructions from the company to cease communication with me? Was he displeased with how I portrayed him in my appeal? Or was he simply tired of playing games and pretending to want to help me, so he finally had enough of it and blocked me? Well, it has been over a year now and I have not heard a word from him, so I still have no idea what went down – how things went from Matt acting freaked out and completely distraught that I was being fired to blocking me on Facebook after I submitted my appeal.
I have enclosed for your consideration, a copy of my appeal to read and judge for yourself. There is almost nothing in it that you have not already read about in more detail in my story already. Maybe there are a few extra details. It is certainly more concise than this blog post. My good friend, Gary, who still works for Royal Caribbean in the H.R. department read my appeal and thought it would actually get me somewhere. As it turns out, it got me no where.
Appeal of Dismissal from Royal Caribbean
On August 22, just a few weeks after I submitted my appeal, I received a letter back from Royal Caribbean. It was short and sweet. The decision stood. I could never be employed with Royal Caribbean or any of their brands in any capacity.
Rejection of Appeal by Royal Caribbean
As it turns out, this letter was simply a form letter that they send to everyone else. I published my appeal on Issuu over a year ago and since then I have been contacted by numerous former employees asking me how my appeal went and for advice in writing their own appeals about their dismissal. I tell them all the same thing: Unless RCCL broke the law when they fired you, your appeal is probably not going to go anywhere. They have over 64,000 employees and you are just one of the many. On any given day they have much bigger problems on their hands. If you don’t believe me, check out all the postings on Cruise Law News constantly calling attention to guests who are injured, shipboard fires, and employee complaints.
And even though I saw all this, I really must say, I’m not bitter. I don’t think Royal Caribbean as a company has done anything wrong. In fact, I still very much love Royal Caribbean! I highly recommend people to go on Royal Caribbean cruises. And I recommend them over many other cruise lines. Since my dismissal, I have myself been on a cruise – on the Oasis of the Seas to visit Jennifer – and it was awesome. I would go on more cruises if I could afford it. I would love to go on one of the Joco Cruises someday. I even recommend to friends that Royal Caribbean is a great place to work. Just don’t make the mistakes I did.
I write this to bring closure and provide disclosure. I made mistakes, and I paid a very high price for those mistakes. Other people certainly did things which I don’t agree with, and I think there were certainly a few individuals who were not acting in an ethical manner in the least. In such a large company, it is easy to get lost in the bureaucracy and for people who have more experience manipulating that bureaucracy to take advantage of you. But, I don’t hold that against Royal Caribbean. If they would have me back, I would jump at the opportunity to work for them again.
When all is said and done, my time with Royal Caribbean was a beautiful and wonderful experience for which I am extremely grateful. I loved working with the children so much, and I loved the life and the people I worked with. I made some of the best friends anyone could ask for, and even though we might not always stay in touch as frequently as we’d like, I cherish them all in my heart and miss them all very much.
And that is everything that happened on the good ole Independence of the Seas.