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STD ran out, likely to be terminated, documented disabilty (NJ): options New Jersey

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  • STD ran out, likely to be terminated, documented disabilty (NJ): options New Jersey

    I have been browsing the forums for a few days hoping I would read a similar situation but unforatently, I havent seen anything. I am going to try to keep this brief but I'm not sure I can. I didnt know if this should go in this forum or the termination one so please let me know if I should move it.
    Thank you in advance for any guidance or advice.

    I am currently in an intensive outpatient treatment program. Diagnosed with Depression, ADHD, Bipolar II, Generalized and Social Anxiety, & Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (not OCD).
    My short term disability ran out July 7th. I had taken a period of short term disability last summer & was advised I was not eligible for FMLA during this period of STD. My employer is requesting a anticipated return to work date to determine if they may be able to approve an unpaid leave of absence. At this time my psychiatrist does not anticipate me being able to return to work for at least 2-3 months, if at all to this particular job. He is refusing to send my job a statement of an estimated return date and is notifying them: "indefinetly" (according to our latest conversation). I am not eligible for long term disability until October because of of the 180 waiting day period (my STD ran out before 180 days).

    I had advised my boss of my ADHD diagnosing several years ago and per my psychiatrist made sure to inform HR directly upon my return from STD last year. (HR claimed my boss did not tell them ever). According to the Job Accommodation Network website the things I have been asking for but refused by my boss are reasonable accommodations; assistance breaking down projects into smaller manageable steps, clear due dates for assignments, provide details on prioritizing task (ie: which are most important, which to delay), steps to avoid distractions and interruptions when doing paperwork/reports, provided structure with breaks and lunch (I am only allowed to take breaks/lunch when things slow down and it varies as much as a few hours day to day), separate tasks to they can be completed one at a time (I am expected to take customer calls AND respond to customer emails at the exact same time [which I think a non ADHD person would have trouble with] as well as other scenarios like this. *I am the only one who does the emails so no one else has this expectation), provide clear performance standards (have requested a meeting for over 9 months to talk about my performance but it is always postponed and rescheduled).

    Last year before I went on STD, I was written up for crying at work and advised that if this behavior is repeated I could be terminated. That day when I got in and drank some coffee I threw up and starting feeling extremely dizzy and confused. The team leader was telling me I couldn't leave to go to the doctor because we were short staffed that day and I started crying. I said I need to go because I felt it was to serious and there was no way I could perform my work today. Note: my boss, who wrote me up, was not in this day. Urgent care diagnosed with heat stroke and likely concussion and wrote me a note to stay out of work for the remainder of the week. I attempted to provide the note to my boss but she refused to take it. 45 days later I was called into her office and notified I was written up. After, I was denied applying for a job which would be more structured with less distractions to my ADHD because of the write up. I also was given a low performance review (first time not getting an "exceeds" or "outstanding") because of the write up and recieved a really really small raise (less that 1/5th of previous years). All attempts to meet with HR and my boss about this were postponed over and over again.

    I have contacted a lawyer but he is hesitant to take me on because of the complexity of the issue.

    My questions are:
    1) if my employer fires me because my STD ran out can I apply for unemployment when my doctor clears me? My doctor states I may be able to work a different job in a few weeks, one with less complications to my ADHD.
    3) would it be better to try to get a LTD claim in now stating my disabilty will last beyond October? The benefits would not kick in until then so I am assuming if the doctor clears me to get another job before then I could recall the claim.
    2) do I have any possible legal ramifications because they did not accommodate several of my requests? I was not able to report them directly to HR but my understanding now is that my boss was required to do so as I have documented it with the company. An additional issue is I had been keeping notes on when meetings with boss were cancelled, examples of requests made and denied, etc however this information was left at work since I wasn't planning to go on STD. Therefor I have less documentation then I would like.

    Also, another employee who was on STD 2 years ago was terminated the day she returned. She was given 3 months severance and 9 months company paid healthcare. I believe this was to avoid a lawsuit. This makes me think that I may have some legal rights as she was required to sign a document stating she would not sue for wrongful termination. She did not have a documented disability.

    Does anyone know of a lawyer, or an organization I can reach out to for legal guidance in NJ who may take this on a contingency (preferred).

    Thank yo again for any guidance. As you can probably imagine this situation has increased my anxiety and not aiding my recovery.

  • #2
    You might try the Community Health Law Project. I've referred many mental health clients to them. They have several offices in NJ. They provide free legal services (non-criminal) for people with psychiatric and physical disabilities.

    "Reasonable accommodations" can not be determined by simply reading a law or a website; what is reasonable for one company is not always reasonable for another. Even within one company, what is a reasonable accommodation for one position may not be reasonable for another.
    For example if someone is a receptionist and asks for a reasonable accommodation to have very limited contact with the public, this would not be reasonable. But if someone were a computer tech, it might be very reasonable. It's very possible that your company could not reasonably make the accommodations you asked for, or it's possible they discriminated against your disability. We can never determine that here.


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