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Terminated just as I was going out for surgery Texas Texas Texas

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  • Terminated just as I was going out for surgery Texas Texas Texas

    My situation is thus: I work in management, from a home office. I had an accident on a business trip in Dec that resulted in a broken foot and although it did cut the trip short, it didn't stop me from working from my bed , I still had to file WC. I healed, but took another two falls (non work related) in recent months that have resulted in the discovery of 2 herniated cervical discs and torn rotator cuff. It took many doctor visits to get to the bottom of this and now I find I need two surgeries: the shoulder cannot be done until the neck is stabilized.

    I have not missed any work during a very high profile season, and no one at work has had any clue that I was working from my bed as it is. I also have 3 weeks of vacation remaining for the year.

    I have been trying to reach my VP for several weeks, who has put off our calls for one reason or another. I did not want to talk to anyone else prior to him: I finally have the diagnosis and how they wanted to proceed with as little time off work as possible.

    We had a call to review many items, and lo and behold, I was told there were going to be some changes made and although it had nothing to do with my performance, things were going to go in a new direction. I was given 3 months to get my projects settled in to 4th quarter, as well as train/transition my replacement.

    I had no clue this was coming, my performance reviews have been literally outstanding, with the last having the highest rating yet in March. I was told they wanted to give me enough time to prepare myself, and again, "transition" my replacement. Of course, after being stunned and questioning, I discussed the need for the surgeries.

    My questions are thus: is it possible my medical records had a role in this? Just how private are they? I cannot make sense of what is happening.

    I also know that the surgery needs to happen quickly on the cervical discs, as there is impingement on the spinal cord but I had thought I would have short term disability and now that appears out of the question. They have told me I will need 4 weeks min. between the first surgery and the next, so do I throw down the gauntlet and start them now, during this three months my company says I have left? As I understand it, they could drop me at any time. Our company policy is 12 weeks of STD, as well as 12 of LTD.

    I know they want me here to position everything for 4th quarter, and train my replacement who I'm guessing is already in line waiting to be announced.

    I'd appreciate suggestions.

  • #2
    It doesn't sound like it has anything to do with your medical records. They don't have access to your medical records, by the way.
    Please no private messages about your situation.


    • #3

      They have asked to meet with me next week to "review" how I feel about the situation, and I plan to contact TWC first. I'm wondering about my options of going for STD as I am technically still employed, given their suggestion of staying on through this transition of three months there really is no assurance of follow through on their side. The surgeons have told me first surgery will take at least 4 weeks to heal before second can be performed, then possibly 6 weeks. I have been with this company 16 years and never missed a day.

      Again, nothing was stated regarding my performance, just a "change of direction" and that everyone felt "badly" regarding the situation.

      I want to be sure I am making the clear, sound decisions, as I will hampered in seeking other employment for the interim. In order to collect UI I have to provide "ongoing ability, availability, and work search requirements".


      • #4
        16 years, undoubtedly full time so 1250 hours most likely applies. Does you employer have at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius of your work location? IF so you should be FMLA eligible and this would give you 12 weeks of job and benefit protections under the federal FMLA laws. More than enough time to see to your medical conditions. Put yourself FIRST on this one. Obviously your employer isn't so you must.

        Get those medical issues taken care of and let all else come second. Apply for FMLA ASAP. Provided your employer meets the required # of employees, and I suspect they do, you will have those 12 weeks that they have to keep your insurances in effect. Try to schedule your vacation to cover as much of the medical time as possible, if you won't be allowed to cash out that vacation time when they slam the door in your face for the final time. Otherwise get your STD applied for. It is likely that even if your termination occurs before you are released to RTW from surgery that the STD may remain in effect. Be sure and check with your HR dept to find out for sure. Also check and see if you can take continuation coverage for your LTD just in case your recovery does not go smoothly and you have to be out longer than you anticipate. Cervical spine surgery is usually a pretty major deal. Only waiting four weeks between procedures sounds like an awfully short time to me.

        If your replacement isn't trained by you so what. They sure don't seem to be considering you in the "new direction" now are they.

        As far as them having access to your medical records I don't agree with the other poster as you mention at one time you had a WC claim. That would certainly give them access to your medical records. In spite of HIPAA laws I have seen many times that medical records were not nearly as protected as HIPAA requires. Many instances where things slip through the cracks. I would be highly suspect of the "new direction", without you, of having something to do with someone having some inside knowledge of your personal health issues. Just MHO, if you will, take it for what it is worth. Seems rather strange to me to being cutting you out of the picture not due to a downsizing as they are replacing you. Let them worry about how that replacement is going to learn the set up.

        Sorry for your troubles. Keep in mind for every door that is closed a window will open which leads to a bigger and better door.

        Good Luck to you.
        Last edited by Kick Me; 09-24-2007, 12:49 PM.
        Information posted by me is my "OPINION". I do NOT give legal advice to anyone as like most here I am NOT an attorney.


        • #5
          How do you know these falls were not due to your spinal injury? When my husband had a ruptured and bulging disks, it effected his balance, and he fell many times. Those falls could be a result of the original claim. I would contact an attorney. Is it also possible that the position your body had to take to do your work at home aggrivated your injury and made your legs weak, or numb. I just truely think you should obgtain a WC attorney. I also agree, they are not going in a different direction, they are replacing you. Has your doctor ordered physical therapy ever? Has your working from home interfered with doctors orders (like not sitting upright for a long period of time, etc)?


          • #6
            Many thanks

            Yes, there are at least 50 employees within 75 miles and I believe all other qualifications are met.
            The first fall appeared to have some logical reason, but the the next two did not. That started a long journey of MRI, CAT of brain, shoulder and cervical, as well as knee.and blood work Blood work showed B12 Intrinsic factor issue, which could cause balance issue; cervical also proved negative on 2-3 discs and shoulder fracture and rotator tear. Sounds simple but has taken me a couple of months to get to the bottom of this between neurologist, orthopedic and neurosurgeon. Meanwhile, I walk with a cane and have one arm in a sling.

            The problem was I had such a terrible time finding a WC doctor, but once I did, because I worked from home and it was my foot with the first accident, I was cleared right away. I did go back after my second fall to his office to double check and they said I was fine (I explained how I fell and caught myself with my arms and landed on my foot,knees and hands hard-but only foot and knee checked), so that's why I've been seeing my own doctor's ever since. Remember, the shoulder felt bruised but not painful till many weeks later. Is it a problem now, since I've seen outside of WC medical?

            I hadn't even made that connection. How does one go about finding a WC attorney?

            It was only this week that the neurosurgeon told me he thought the cervical had a role in my imbalance/falls. No therapy ordered, use cane to prevent falling, ice/heat and changing positions until surgery, which is difficult on a laptop/desktop but I move from room to room, etc.


            • #7
              You open up your phone book and in the yellow pages they have their attorneys divided by specialtys like accident and injury, family law, DUI's, etc. My guess is one will have an add with a picture that states they deal with workers comp. Seeing your own doc on a workers comp claim is not uncommon and the WC doc was only treating you for the foot/leg area, so keep trying.


              • #8

                I asked for FMLA paperwork over a week ago. They refused to send them to me at that time. I got another letter from a doctor, faxed it and am now told something will be fed ex'd to me later this week.They have now said I will be terminated in 6 weeks. My job is being "redesigned" (not eliminated) and therefore, FMLA will end at that date. It makes no difference, according to HR, once the company decided to change my role, and that I was not the "right" person, that was it. They say FMLA does not apply for this. I point out the wording of similar/comparable job and they say no.

                I was not given any reason or the chance to pursue the new role. I was told I could look for something else inside or outside the company, but right now, nothing is available according to the powers that be. Not to mention, I have the surgeries about to start.

                It appears I need to get that lawyer, in a most fragile time.


                • #9
                  Yes inabind and yesterday would have been none too soon. Make sure that any attorney you plan to hire is board certified as a WC specialist. Also being experienced as a trial lawyer would be good. What ever you do DO NOT use one of those TV firms, the ones that advertise between Oprah and Jerry Springer. They will not be in it to see to it that you get the care and benefits you are entitled to. They will be all fired up to get to settlement and if you are taken care of in the mean time they could care less.

                  In the mean time get all your medical records from that original injury, make sure you have any diagnostic study results, and all of the records from the docs you have seen outside of WC, including the diagnostics. Get that neurosurgeon to put in the written record his opinion that the cervical spine issues could be contributing to your imbalance issues. It would not surprise me in the least to have any number of doctors outside of WC make a connection for both your shoulder and cervical spine injuries to the original fall. Happens all the time WC docs not doing a throughal exam and putting the injured worker back to work with undiagnosed injures. It would surprise me even less to have the WC insurance company immediately accept the rest of your claim and not fight you tooth and nail for benefits.

                  The key to getting those benefits paid is going to be a good WC attorney that is on top of WC laws in your state. Nothing less will do.

                  Good luck to you.

                  Information posted by me is my "OPINION". I do NOT give legal advice to anyone as like most here I am NOT an attorney.