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FMLA, STD, and is what they are doing to me ILLEGAL? Florida

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  • FMLA, STD, and is what they are doing to me ILLEGAL? Florida

    New here and need some help,

    About 6 weeks ago I was in a bad car accident (not my fault). I was hit from behind by some guy eating and texting (yay him!). I had a stainless steel trash can propelled into my head at 45-50 mph, now have 3 herniated cervical discs, 3 deflated discs, post concussive syndrome with amnesia, partial and petite seizures, and swelling in areas in the cranium surrounding the brain. My hips are 5-6 inches misaligned, so I trip and fall alot too and I have massive issues with ptsd, confusion, depression, anxiety and amnesia from events ranging within the last year.

    Anyway, I am on FMLA and it took over a month to get my STD payments approved. Within a week of my accident, my boss had sent a cohort to my peronal home to collect my keys, procurement card and locked me out of my company email account, I thought this was all kinda strange, but i didn't care much as I was in too much pain. Now suddenly I am getting letters from the leave coordinator saying that I am due back at work in a week and a half. Umm, hello, I'm not even supposed to be driving due to seizures and it's only been just over a week on FMLA!! She tells me to contact my supervisor, my supervisor at first tried to play dumb, but then goes on about how the people covering for me need to go hear and need to go there and she really needs me back...um excuse me, i am on MEDICAL LEAVE, how dare you try to pressure me to come back. Illegal item #1. I'm constantly getting emails from clients saying that no one will tell them where I am, just that I am on leave and they don't know anything else. Next I ask my supervisor about the weird date on the letter and she says that I need to fax her proof that I need the full 12 weeks, because no one has ever taken that kind of leave under her. First of all, my FMLA was approved already and she isn't the person who makes that desicion and second I find that hard to believe since she's been a regional manager for over 30 years and I know for a fact that 2 people on my team have MS and cancer. Anyways, being the nice person that I am, I told her that the neurologist told me I should expect my recovery to be 6 months to 1 year long but I told her I may be able to return at 12 weeks with restrictions (like no more working 13 hour days, no lifting over 5 pounds, being able to attend regular PT appointments, etc). She said that would make me unfit to sustain my job duties and I would be terminated. That sounds pretty darn illegal to me. Is it time to hire a lawyer? I feel really lost and totally sad right now. What kind of company/people treats the victim like the bad guy? If I am fired for all of this, can I at least collect unemployment?
    Sorry for the long post, I just really need some good advice!

  • #2
    1. Speak with HR about the constant phone calls. There is no reason for them.

    2. Your clients don't need to be told why you are on leave.

    3. If you've already been approved for 12 weeks of FMLA, HR should have the documentation, otherwise the FMLA for that period would not have approved in the first place. Your supervisor has no need to see that physician's statement, nor should she.

    4. Now, if you aren't able to return to work without restrictions after 12 weeks of FMLA, you can be legally terminated. Although a short extension of medical leave might be reasonable under the ADA (if it applied, and we don't know that it does), another several weeks or even months would not be considered reasonable by most employers.

    5. You can apply for unemployment if you are terminated after FMLA is exhausted AND you have been medically released. However, if your restrictions meet the criteria to continue disability payments, you can't double-dip.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Let me do a little clarifying:
      2. The nature of my business is very personal. I am a preschool Director and have been for over 15 years. I am very hands on, I know all of my clients very well and have a hands on approach. They are upset because no one will tell them what is going on and I can't tell them because it would cause me to be terminated. I just feel this is bad business. I feel bad for them. These people trust me with their children, their families and then suddenly, I'm just not there one day and noi one will tell them why.

      3. I was told via telephone by the leave coordintor that i was approved for my 12 week FMLA, now all of the sudden I start getting all of these letters demanding my return by SEPT 6TH and if I don't confirm in writing within 7 days, I am voluntarily resigning?!?!?!?

      Should I begin the process of applying for regular disability through the state at this point since Iam looking at a year long recovery, probably spine surgery and have 2 small children to care for? Where do I turn for help?

      Comment


      • #4
        2. What they should or should not do business-wise is their decision. What I can say is that it is not a legal question.

        3. Is Sept. 6 the day after your 12 weeks of FMLA is exhausted? If so, I would "confirm" by saying "it is my full intention to be able to return to work by the time my FMLA is exhausted". They don't need legally to know anything more than that at this point, for instance, that you may not be able to. I can understand where they're going though. They need to know whether or not to try to find a replacement on short notice.

        If you cannot return after your FMLA is exhausted, and the employer is not willing to provide further leave, THEY are terminating YOU; you are not resigning and it will not be interpreted that way when you get to the UI claim stage.

        Florida HAS no state disability program. You may be able to get cash assistance through welfare programs if you are temporarily disabled, especially since you have children. Also food stamps. If you are on unpaid leave, you should apply for those benefits NOW. And hopefully, the children's father is paying his child support as required.

        I'm sorry for your situation, I hope you and/or your insurance company is suing the pants off this guy, especially for lost wages. Best of luck in your treatment and recovery.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          3. No, My FMLA leave should carry until Oct 12th. All of my medical documentation has stated that my date for return is unknown at this time due to the severity of my injuries and the individual healing process. When I inquired about this date they said "oh, thats just when we were hopng you'd get back cause we want to move Directors around because some other people have resigned and we need to cover their positions (nevermind my needs).

          My children's father pays nothing. He has taken in my 7 year ld son since the accident because I physically couldn't care for both children, but at the time of our divorce, he had lot his job and I was the bread-winner, so her really got away with murder. I did send in paperwork for those services, but never followed through, because I was afraid I would get denied because we are living with my boyfriend since the accident and he makes fairly decent money. I didn't know if this wouldn't disqualify us, even though we aren't married and I would still feel like I should pay bills with him.

          Comment


          • #6
            So let me get this straight?!? If after my 12 wk FMLA I am deemed LTD, my employer of 2 years has no legal obligation to accomodate and work with my disability and can just fire me.....just like that???? how is that legal in the United states where we have things like the ADA to protect us???????

            Comment


            • #7
              The ADA (*if it applies*) only requires the employer to provide a reasonable
              accommodation (one that is not an undue hardship on the employer). If
              they can't provide a reasonable accommodation, you can be terminated after
              your 12 weeks of job protected FMLA is up.
              Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

              Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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              • #8
                And that's assuming that the ADA applies in the first place. As yet, we do not know that it does.

                The ADA is intended to see that disabled employees have the same resources as non-disabled employees. It is intended to level the playing field. It is not and never was intended to give you indefinite medical leave or require your employer to hold your job permanently. The goal of the ADA is to have disabled people working - not to keep them off work.

                The law is very specific that once FMLA has expired, your employer can legally term you. The law has to balance the needs of employees with the needs of employers; 12 weeks is where they chose to draw the line in the sand.
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cbg View Post
                  And that's assuming that the ADA applies in the first place. As yet, we do not know that it does.

                  The ADA is intended to see that disabled employees have the same resources as non-disabled employees. It is intended to level the playing field. It is not and never was intended to give you indefinite medical leave or require your employer to hold your job permanently. The goal of the ADA is to have disabled people working - not to keep them off work.

                  The law is very specific that once FMLA has expired, your employer can legally term you. The law has to balance the needs of employees with the needs of employers; 12 weeks is where they chose to draw the line in the sand.
                  Also, note that if they terminate you before your 12 weeks of FMLA (job protected leave) they are illegal in doing so and you have recourse.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That's true - they are only in the clear legally if the employee has used the entire 12 weeks of FMLA. I didn't mean to imply otherwise.
                    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, I hope I am not being misunderstood. I am not trying to take advantage of the ADA act to stay off work payed, indefinately at all. I have been intructed verbally and in writing (as recently as this week) that I am in no shape to return to work and doing so would place a huge liability on my company. Just yesterday I had a seizure followed by a blackout at home and was unconscious for 4 hours afterward. My ex husband came beating down my door because the school called because I never showed to pick-up the children.

                      I just want my right to FMLA to be respected and protected and once again, the more I learn about the system in place with these insurance companies, lawyers, certain employers, etc, it makes me SICK!

                      I did place a call to my regional HRIS Supervisor and she did make me feel somewhat better in letting me know that there is NO WAY my supervisor can just terminate me after my 12 weeks based on this and that it would have to go through HR and the legal department. She did reassure me that I should not feel as though my job is threatened and no one should elude to that based on their own agenda. She said it is only 6 weeks in and way to early to make guesses like that. Suddenly, my boss is calling me leaving me sugary sweet voicemails when I've barely heard from her in 6 weeks....things that make ya go hmmmm???

                      Regardless, I just don't trust anyone right now. I feel like in this economy, they could gladly replace me with someone fresh out of college and pay them half what I make because I have almost 20 years experience. I guess whatever is meant to be will be...

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