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Unemployment Denial/FMLA Question Florida

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  • Unemployment Denial/FMLA Question Florida

    Thanks in advance for any comments you may make regarding my situation. I will try to provide as much info as possible.

    I accepted a job with a company (which I will call "Smithcorp" to maintain the company's anonymity).

    After working for Smithcorp for approximately one month, I was experiencing an exorbitant amount of stress due to extreme workload and outrageous performance expectations. I worked overtime and through unpaid lunches/breaks to maintain a level of performance that I would be told was "not enough" by the owner of the company. He stated that he "would not pay the position" for the amount of work I was putting forth and that I needed to "step it up". I stated that I was working as I was trained in addition to working overtime, etc. to produce what performance he deemed incommensurate. He replied, "Just make it happen".

    I under the care of a psychiatrist for Bipolar I Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I have a completed Form "WH-380" Certification of Health Care Provider.

    The tremendous stress caused by the work conditions triggered severe panic attacks for which I am prescribed an anti-anxiety medication.

    The evening of my conversation with the owner regarding my performance, I began to suffer the above attacks. At 4AM the following day I called in sick as a result. I received no response. I continued to suffer the attacks for the next two days both of which I called in sick in a timely manner and both of which I requested and received no response.

    Because of this lack of response, my assumption was that I was terminated.

    I did not return to work, calling each day to request a response from Smithcorp. Finally, days later, I received a call from the HR director asking "what happened to me". She stated that they had not received any calls, etc. I told her that I had called each day and received no response from her. She responded that I would "be terminated either way" but that she preferred that I submit a letter of resignation for medical reasons. I declined. She then stated that she would "fight unemployment" anyway.

    I appeared on the next pay day to retrieve my final paycheck and personal belongings from Smithcorp. At that time she refused to release my check unless I hand-wrote a resignation right then and there. I argued but eventually gave in due to the fact that I needed the check in order to meet my child support obligations.

    I filed for unemployment and received a letter that stated I was denied benefits because: "The claimant quit because of health reasons. It has not been shown that the claimant's health required the claimant to leave the job."

    I was not asked for any information from neither Smithcorp nor the State.

    I have filed an appeal but I have no idea how my "serious health condition" certification may play into this, if at all. The periodic attacks that I can suffer are treated by "as-needed" medication and do not require doctors' visits and/or hospitalization. They can, however, be "debilitating". Therefore, I have no "incident-specific" doctor's notes, etc. for these occurences.

    I know better than to officially ask for advice so, any "thoughts"?

    As a sidenote: Prior to accepting the job I was receiving unemployment benefits due to a layoff at my previous employer. According the unemployment information I received upon filing, I could be denied benefits if I did not accept a position I was offered. This is why I accepted the position at Smithcorp.

    Also, to put the stress level encountered at Smithcorp into perspective: I have successfully worked for over ten years in the very stressful IT industry. From 1995 until 2006 I was never fired or unemployed for any reason. As I said before, my unemployment before Smithcorp was not performance related; it was a layoff. I have won numerous awards for my work and always received very positive performance evaluations throughout my career. The conditions at Smithcorp were the worst I have ever encountered - enough to bring about the attacks I described above. My ability/diagnoses/work ethic are not an issue.

    Thanks again for any comments.

  • #2
    If you only joined Smithcorp in 2006, you are not eligible for FMLA and the definition of a serious health condition is irrelevant. It takes, among other things, employment with this employer of no less than 12 months before you are entitled to FMLA.
    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


    • #3
      Thanks much for the reply

      I wasn't actually thinking of using any FMLA leave but rather using the FMLA certification form from my doc to satisfy the response from the State that stated, "The claimant quit because of health reasons. It has not been shown that the claimant's health required the claimant to leave the job."

      Because my attacks require no doctor intervention or hospitalization, I have no doctors' notes, etc. specifically for the days that I missed. I only have this completed federal document that details my chronic serious medical condition.

      My thinking is that if I can prove that my health did require leaving then their objection is without merit.

      Thoughts?

      Comment


      • #4
        Okay, so you get the doctor to complete the form. That shows that you had a health reason that could have, had you been eligible, be entitled to medical LEAVE. It does not prove that you quit for health reasons.
        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


        • #5
          Originally posted by fallen86
          At 4AM the following day I called in sick as a result. I received no response. I continued to suffer the attacks for the next two days both of which I called in sick in a timely manner and both of which I requested and received no response.

          Because of this lack of response, my assumption was that I was terminated.
          In my opinion, this is where you went wrong. Never assume such things.

          What type of response did you expect to your absence and why? Is it standard procedure at Smithcorp to call back employees who have called out?

          According to your post, you called out three days and then did not call out or appear for work thereafter. Personally, after the third day of not hearing from you, I would have terminated your employment for job abandonment (which is considered voluntary termination, i.e. you resigned). This would make you ineligible for unemployment benefits. However, I would have also sent you a certified letter to inform you of this but that isn't required by law.

          Because you are ineligible for FMLA, the employer had no obligation to contact your or provide you with any type of notice regarding your employment status.

          You incorrectly assumed that you had been terminated but your employer (correctly) assumed that you resigned as you did not arrive for work or call to inform them of your absence.

          Comment


          • #6
            For some reason, my original reply never got posted, so I'll restate it here.

            Assuming the original poster accurately described the phone call with HR, that was a termination. Furthermore, this type of miscommunication has been held in Florida to constitute a termination for purposes of collecting unemployment benefits - do a Google search for "Case No. 2D05-2941" and read Wood v. U.A.C.

            The original poster probably ought to consult a lawyer for handling the appeal on this one because it's not a clear-cut matter. The Florida Bar ought to be able to provide a referral.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MikeWas
              Assuming the original poster accurately described the phone call with HR, that was a termination.
              If I had to guess, I would say that the HR reps comments referred to the fact that their employment was going to be terminated for "No Call/No Show." Regardless, I agree that it was an official notification that her employment ended.

              Originally posted by MikeWas
              Furthermore, this type of miscommunication has been held in Florida to constitute a termination for purposes of collecting unemployment benefits - do a Google search for "Case No. 2D05-2941" and read Wood v. U.A.C.
              Not entirely an exact match for the situation presented above. Wood V. UAC has several key details that are very case specific. I wouldn't use it as a generalization to gague the outcome of this particular situation. Fallen's case pretty much depends on Smithcorps policy and if they can demonstrate he/she knew it.

              Fallen, does your employee handbook, or other known policy specify what you are to do if you can't make it to work?

              Most companies have a policy that states that you must call in by a certian time to notify someone if you can't make it to work each day etc... The same policies usually spell out what happens if you fail to call in (termination after x number of days).

              If you company has no such policy, you may be able to contend that this was due to miscommunication based on the fact that you did not know what was expected of you in this situation. It would probably be a stretch though.

              Let me know if they have a policy regarding call outs and if so, what it is.

              In my experience, most UI cases depend on the details of the particular situation. However, I have never seen a company with a clear "call out" & "no call/no show" policy lose an appeal.

              Comment


              • #8
                The OP has a very strong argument that he did not quit, but rather was terminated. As the Wood case makes clear, the burden to demonstrate the separatuion was a quit initially lies with the employer. The OP made more than one attempt to contact the employer, but his attempts were unreciprocated. It may boil down to a he said/she said, but generally such battles are won by the claimant, but most especially so where the burden on the issue lies with the employer. There is seemingly no evidence of an intent to resign on the part of the OP, but rather evidence to the contrary.

                Yet, even if this is determined a voluntary leaving, he will likely be detrmined eligible if he has medical documentation that demonstrates he was compelled to resign.

                Of course, that begs the question whether or not he is able, available and actively seeking full-time work, but that is an entirely different issue from the determination of whether he is eligible based on the separation.

                Comment

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