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Literally sick over a bullying situation - Can I take medical leave in Texas? Texas

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  • Literally sick over a bullying situation - Can I take medical leave in Texas? Texas

    Thanks in advance for any help you're able to offer.

    A recent college graduate came to work at my company and for about a year and a half I was her mentor, working 50-60 hours a week in the same office. At one point in a meeting my boss indicated that I would get a senior title, while she said nothing about the other girl getting the same title. (I had at that point 7 years more experience with the company, though.) It was at this point she started to become jealous.

    Two months ago I found she had created a Myspace page posing as me with a lot of my personal information on it. It looked VERY authentic--but she had also made what looked like "self-deprecating" comments from me about how I was overweight, wished I had a real job, etc. Old colleagues could easily look at it and think it was really me, but that I had become a loser.

    I was completely shocked that anyone would do something so bizarre. I asked a coworker in confidence for advice about what I should do. Later that day she told my boss, who called me that night, angry with me for accusing my coworker of doing this. I do have proof. I asked her to please let me deal with it on an interpersonal level because I had not intended to escalate it. I was scheduled for a 2-week vacation, and I left the next day, hoping things would blow over.

    When I came back, this coworker had accused me of being condescending, not responding to emails, "not being a team player," and being a stalker (!). I was brought into HR for several hours to discuss this. The HR person had a stack of emails that I had supposedly written, but I was not allowed to see them. (And if this girl would make a fake Myspace page for me, why couldn't she change a few words in an email to make it negative?) I was not allowed to show them the Myspace page or my evidence, because it was not work-related. I strongly suspect this coworker suggested that I had created the Myspace page myself to accuse HER. I was told never to discuss this again, and no one else was allowed to discuss this again. I was not written up.

    My boss moved everyone else's cubes away from me. She has sent me emails saying that I have to say "good morning" to everyone on my team and that I have to ask everyone if they need help every day. No one else has to ask if I need help, and no one says good morning to me. Every day there seems to be a new silly rule designed to trip me up. All along the way, my performance has continued to be excellent--I was instrumental in winning 2 multi-million dollar accounts.

    Meanwhile, though, I have really been falling apart. I've lost weight, I've had to start taking a prescription to sleep through the night (I bolt awake with nightmares), my heart has been racing, and I've been nauseated literally since the moment I discovered this page. I have no idea what else this person has done, or might still do to me. She did at one point confide to me that, when she discovered an old high school classmate had begun working as a stripper, she gathered a bunch of her other classmates together and they went to the club to ridicule her. This is the kind of person she is.

    I am seeing my GP on Tuesday, because I can't go on like this. Is this the kind of thing where I could take medical leave? It would be good if I could take some time to get myself healthy again, but I don't know if I can go back to that job. I really liked it--for more than 7 years--till this happened.

    I have Extended Illness Benefits and Short-Term Disability. My employee handbook says this:

    For the purpose of this policy, an extended illness is defined as any absence due to an employee's non-work related injury or illness that requires confinement to home or a hospital, under a doctor's care, for 8 consecutive calendar days or more. In almost all cases, this will coincide with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you are out on an extended illness, you will be required to furnish a:

    1. Family and Medical Leave of Absence Request Form; and
    2. Certification of Health Care Provider Form.

    The Company may require additional documents and information necessary (including a second opinion) to confirm the need for the extended illness benefit.


    I really hate the idea that I would need to furnish my medical records to the company. I know this person would enjoy hearing that her bullying hit its target so well. I also don't like this thing that I read in the handbook:

    During your leave, you may be required to provide additional physician's statements at reasonable intervals upon request from the Company or the insurance carriers. You may be required to submit to medical
    examinations by physicians designated by the Company at its discretion and at the Company's expense, at the beginning of, during, or at the end of your leave period. You may also need to provide the Company with access to your medical records as required.


    This seems like a huge violation of privacy. And there's one last thing that disturbs me, because I am not sure I could return to this job after what's happened:

    If you do not return to work from any type of leave at the designated time, your employment will be terminated, and you will be required to reimburse the Company for insurance premiums paid by the Company
    on your behalf during the leave period.

  • ElleMD
    replied
    Frankly whether she sees it as a "win" to make you leave or not, it doesn't not sound like a healthy environment. Even if you take leave now, you are still going back to the same mess as before. Take it from someone who has been there- it doesn't get easier even after you have been off.

    Leave a comment:


  • cyjeff
    replied
    They are blowing smoke up your skirt.

    How can you be defaming their character? Of the company? Them personally?

    You cannot be sued for telling the truth even if that truth hurts another person. However, you cannot tell a lie as a truth which is what the MySpace page did.

    Besides, why would a company worry if you sue an employee? You probably don't have a case against them... it is not your employer's problem that you have a personal problem with another employee.

    Leave a comment:


  • cdnoble
    replied
    Both my boss and this HR person tried to discourage me from filing a lawsuit after saying that would be my only recourse. They said she would just file a 'defamation of character' countersuit and, sadly, they are probably right.

    More than that, I think that bringing a lawsuit would drag out this situation for me even further, and I don't think that would help me feel better--which is my real goal. But I really do appreciate the suggestion--thank you so much.

    Leave a comment:


  • cyjeff
    replied
    While you don't have an FMLA claim, I would recommend going to an attorney about a libel claim.

    Pretending to be you and causing you harm can be civilly remedied.

    Leave a comment:


  • cdnoble
    replied
    Ah well, I appreciate the advice all the same. Thank you.

    Leave a comment:


  • cbg
    replied
    Based SOLELY on what you have posted, quite frankly I think it's a stretch.

    Leave a comment:


  • cdnoble
    replied
    I know this probably a question better left to my doctor, but do you think FMLA would apply?

    Leave a comment:


  • cbg
    replied
    No one is going to require you to submit your complete medical history. But if you are asking for protected medical leave, your employer is entitled to enough information to see that it is truly warrented. There is nothing in the law that requires them to provide medical leave if FMLA does not apply. STD benefits are not leave; they are how you get paid while you are on leave.

    If you feel you cannot return to the job you are at liberty to quit.

    Leave a comment:

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