Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today, and I’m sorry to hear about your medical issues and employment matter. I think your best bet in this situation would be to apply for social security disability and/or any other private disability insurance to which you have access.
Because you have long exhausted your FMLA leave, the only plausible claim you could bring is a disability claim. The problem with your bringing a disability claim is that you’d have to be able to work with or without a reasonable accommodation in order to be able to bring such a charge. You, however, are claiming you plainly cannot work, which is understandable, but you are not covered by the law. Further, the fact that documents were filled out or sent to you using your nickname has no bearing on your qualification or a violation of notice requirements; this is perfectly legal under the FMLA regulations.
The employer has apparently left you on its insurance long after it was legally required to and now promises to keep you for another year at no cost. Note – because you did not return to work the FMLA would allow them to collect all insurance payment made on your behalf since the time of your leave. In exchange for this they want you to release all claims against them, which is pretty much standard practice. You could ask for more severance or benefits, but, as I stated before, I don’t see much threat in you suing them, so you do not appear to have a whole lot of bargaining power against the employer in that regard. So you should seriously consider the offer you have on the table. If you reject the settlement you risk losing health coverage and risk the employer demanding the past-paid premiums.
You may also want to consider contacting a social security disability attorney. Persons who are not able, or projected to be able, to work for a year or more qualify for disability income; after 2 years of disability they get Medicare coverage. It sounds like you’ll be out at least a year here so you may qualify for payment all the way back to 8/12. There insurance, if necessary, can cover you until the point you can qualify for Medicare.
Unfortunately, that’s the best I can offer you as far as options for yourself; the laws just do not offer you very many options in this scenario. I believe it is best to be forthright in my analysis of an issue, rather than give overly-optimistic forecasts, so you the customer can best decide how to proceed.
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