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Sick leave vs. FMLA- Massachusetts Massachusetts

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  • Sick leave vs. FMLA- Massachusetts Massachusetts

    I live in Massachusetts and became sick a couple weeks ago. I have worked for my company full-time for four years and have amassed 300+ hours of sick time. I had shingles and was seen by my doctor on Monday 8/13. I was instructed to remain out of work until the following Monday, 8/20. I obtained a note from my doctor and returned to work on Monday 8/20, and submitted my note to HR. I have received papers in the mail from our Benefits Service Center, informing me that my sick time has been recorded as FMLA leave. I called immediately, and explained that I did not need FMLA leave, I was simply ill and needed to take five sick days. I was told that from now on, when anyone is out sick for more than three days FMLA must be used. I was mailed a form to be completed by my doctor and faxed back to them, along with a request to discuss my medical issue with my doctor for 'verification.' My questions are as follows: Why am I being forced to submit an FMLA claim retroactively for five sick days? Can they force me to do this, considering I had a finite and temporary ailement? Do they have the right to discuss my medical history with my doctor? I have not taken a single sick day in over eight months. Thank you!

  • #2
    It is not your choice whether to use FMLA or not; nor is it the employer's. If you, the employer and the medical condition all qualify for FMLA and the employer knows it, then the employer MUST apply FMLA at least initially; they would be in violation of the law if they did not. Whether you do or do not have sick time available is not at issue - sick time and FMLA can and do run concurrently. If your objection to using FMLA is that you believe you will not get paid for the time, worry no longer - applying FMLA does not prohibit the employer from paying you if there is sick time available, it simply means that the FMLA protections (meaning that you cannot be fired for the absence) have been applied.
    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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    • #3
      When they applied FMLA, you had job protected leave & also got paid with your sick time.
      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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      • #4
        They cannot possibly know whether this is a condition that will require ongoing treatment (shingles is a bear and a half and considered a "serious health condition").

        "Do they have the right to discuss my medical history with my doctor?"

        Why would you think they'd do that? You don't say. The employer isn't in a position to pry information out of your doctor (or at least your doctor shouldn't cough it up to them). Your doctor is subject to HIPAA. Even if the employer disbelieved a medical certification and decided to pay for and seek their own medical opinion, the doctor they hired wouldn't be able to reveal certain details without your consent under HIPAA. ,

        "I have not taken a single sick day in over eight months."

        That's not relevant.

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        • #5
          Just for clarification, they are entitled to enough medical information to know whether or not FMLA applies. That's a whole different ball of wax from "discussing your medical history with your doctor". But IF your medical privacy was breached (and from what you've said that's questionable at best) the one at fault would be your doctor, not the employer. No law prohibits an employer from asking for information - HIPAA laws limit what information can be released by your doctor without authorization.
          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

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