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Reinstated disabled employee - reasonable accomodation and sick leave California

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  • Reinstated disabled employee - reasonable accomodation and sick leave California

    I have been disabled since 2005. I recently (Aug.2) started working again for my last employer (state of CA). After being on a medical LOA since 2005.
    My second day back I woke up with shortness of breath and wheezing for which I had to go to the E.R. to resolve so I had to call in sick. I have had to call in sick alot for this same condition (asthma) which I think started because of the substancial amount of dust that I had to wipe away from my work station on my first day of work.
    I was asked to bring in a drs. note when I left work early on my second day due to my breathing problems. I agreed but was never asked to produce the requested note so I dropped it.
    I feel that every time I have called in I have been overly scrutinized for proof of my reason for calling in sick. They then offered to give me papers to sign up for fmla, which I have since found out through conversations with my manager that I don't even qualify for since I don't have enough hours.
    So since it is obvious that I am not faking my illness (coughing, wheezing etc.)
    Why are they now threatening to awaol me if I don't produce a doctors note for one day of calling in sick? I feel harrased. They are treating me like a liar and a habitual sick leave abuser.
    What protection do I have to defend against this? Shouldn't reasonable accomodation come into play somewhere?

  • #2
    You say that you called in sick your second day of work, and you have called in sick a lot since then. You don't say how much is "a lot", but you've only been there about 6 weeks. That area is probably trying to figure out if you are going to be able to do the job for which you were hired.

    While I sympathize with you, and don't doubt that you are dealing with real issues, you have to remember that the reason any company (including a state) hires someone is that there is work they need to have done. You state that you don't qualify for FMLA, so you don't have protected leave time available.

    The purpose of reasonable accommodation is to even the playing field so that a person can do the essential functions in the job. What accommodation are you asking for that will allow you to do the job? I suspect that being at the job is something they consider to be an essential function.

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    • #3
      I recently (Aug.2) started working again for my last employer (state of CA). After being on a medical LOA since 2005.

      Your employer maintained you on medical leave for six years? Absent any policies for State of CA employees to the contrary, your employer was only obligated to extend 12 weeks of leave time to you.

      I feel for your situation but now you're back to work after a six year hiatus and you're immediately calling in absent and unable to work. Obviously for legitimate reasons but your employer has been incredibly generous and they're correct - you do not qualilfy for FMLA. Reasonable accommodations don't require your employer to allow you to be chronically absent without any consequences to your job security. You must be able to perform the essential functions of your job which you cannot do if you routinely aren't there.

      If your asthma is this severe, you may have to consider that you simply can no longer work and file for SSDI and any other permanent disablity benefits to which you may be entitled through the State.

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      • #4
        Allowing you to be chronically absent would not be a reasonable accommodation for
        the employer to make.
        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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        • #5
          Originally posted by Minnesota View Post
          You say that you called in sick your second day of work, and you have called in sick a lot since then. You don't say how much is "a lot", but you've only been there about 6 weeks. That area is probably trying to figure out if you are going to be able to do the job for which you were hired.

          While I sympathize with you, and don't doubt that you are dealing with real issues, you have to remember that the reason any company (including a state) hires someone is that there is work they need to have done. You state that you don't qualify for FMLA, so you don't have protected leave time available.

          The purpose of reasonable accommodation is to even the playing field so that a person can do the essential functions in the job. What accommodation are you asking for that will allow you to do the job? I suspect that being at the job is something they consider to be an essential function.
          To clarify the amount of days I have needed to be out sick since August 2 is 8 . I don't expect to be able to call in sick whenever I feel like it, but our unit does allow employees to use a flex time schedule , with core hours of 9:30-1:00 as long as your hours add up to 40 by the end of the week. They would not allow me that benefit from the very first day, even though it would not cause a disruption in work flow or quality or work distribution either. I have asked more than once for a reason why I cant use this benefit . They have never told me a reason f, Its not like its an earned privedge (to be taken away when abused) for example.I didnt even have a chance to call in sick or be chronically absent

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          • #6
            8 days in a YEAR would be a lot. 8 days since August 2, when it is only September 20, is a HUGE deal.

            It is unclear to me how using the flex hours would help. If you're too sick to come in and work your regular hours, it seems to me you would also be too sick to work flex hours.
            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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            • #7
              cbg is right - 8 days in 6 weeks is way too much. Flex time? When a person is new in an area, there is training to be done and evaluation of the work product. That means you need to be there when the people who do the training and evaluation are there.

              As I said before, the reason someone is hired for a job is because there is work that needs to be done, and it usually needs to be done within a predictable timeframe. You have been gone approximately 25% of the time so far. It doesn't sound as if you are able to consistently be there and do the work.

              You and your medical providers are the ones to make a decision about your ability to work on an ongoing basis, but it doesn't sound as if this particular job situation is working well for anyone.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mrsbuttonpusher View Post
                To clarify the amount of days I have needed to be out sick since August 2 is 8 . I don't expect to be able to call in sick whenever I feel like it, but our unit does allow employees to use a flex time schedule , with core hours of 9:30-1:00 as long as your hours add up to 40 by the end of the week. They would not allow me that benefit from the very first day, even though it would not cause a disruption in work flow or quality or work distribution either. I have asked more than once for a reason why I cant use this benefit . They have never told me a reason f, Its not like its an earned privedge (to be taken away when abused) for example.I didnt even have a chance to call in sick or be chronically absent
                If you're too unwell to come to work at all, how does working a flex time schedule make any difference? You wouldn't be at work for your regularly scheduled hours OR your flex time hours.

                Missing eight days in six weeks is an extremely high level of absenteeism. As I said above, you may just have to come to grips with the fact that you're fully disabled and unable to work - at least anything other than a part-time job that would allow you to totally flex your work schedule as medically necessary and those types of jobs are not easy to come by.

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