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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14461
Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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I have been on medical leave (I relapsed into an eating disorder

Customer Question

I have been on medical leave (I relapsed into an eating disorder due to bullying at work; that has caused other health problems) since Feb 25, 2013. My employer requested several letters from my doctor detailing my health status. My doctor wrote at least one letter per month, but she usually wrote two letters per month. She was to get a letter to my employer by today (which she did) or I would be terminated. They went ahead and terminated me despite this. I was harassed constantly by my employer for more specific health information. My doctor's office was also harassed (employer demanding more letters). My doc still has not released me to work. What can I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello there

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Are you a member of an employee union?

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Does your employer have any written policy regarding the termination of employees who are out on medical leave (either in a handbook or other written directive from the company)?

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Do you believe that you may have been the victim of discrimination due to your race, gender, age (over 40), disability (while you were working on the job), religion, or sexual orientation? When you state that you were the victim of "bullying" - did that have anything to do with your race, gender, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation ?

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MARY

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I never read anything in the handbook concerning people on medical leave. I did not qualify for FMLA, but they just considered it a leave.


 


While working on the job, I was just constantly put down, degraded, yelled at, etc. I don't think it was because I was a woman.


 


 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Come to think about it, one lady didn't like me because I was Christian. She said she could kill people just by thinking it. P
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello again Rebecca --

 

All private employers who employ more than 50 people in the US are subject to the terms of the FMLA and when an employee requests a medical leave, whether the employee requests the time to be FMLA time or not, the employer automatically applies the FMLA and is required to keep the job of the employee open for 12 weeks. It is then up to the employer after the 13th week whether or not to hold the job open or terminate the employee or to offer the employee some other position within the company (it does not have to be the same job at the same pay and benefits). The only exception to these FMLA rules is when an employer voluntarily offers more time than the 12 week FMLA leave and sets that policy out in a written handbook or a written directive (we see this most often with maternity leaves when the company offers 4 or 6 months of maternity leave to employees -- the company does not have to do that under the law). If the company had offered a longer leave in their handbook or through written directives and did not follow it in your case then you would have a breach of contract claim against the company. In your case, because there are no other written directives from the company regarding the length of the leave and because you were out of work for more than 12 weeks permitted by the FMLA, the termination was within the bounds of the law.

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Regarding the treatment you suffered in the workplace -- an employee must show that the reason behind any bullying or poor treatment by the employer or fellow employees happened because the underlying reason was to discriminate against you due to your race, religion, age (over 40), disability, gender or sexual orientation. I wish I could tell you something different on this point because I have also been the subject of harassment and poor treatment in the workplace on various jobs and projects that I have worked, but no matter how miserable your employer and/or fellow employees make you in the workplace, the law does not consider it actionable for a wrongful discharge or forced resignation claim unless the root of the bullying and harassment is based upon the legally actionable discrimination points I set forth above. Now, regarding the comments and attitude of the company and fellow employees about your religion that you mentioned above -- if her comments and the actions of other employees amounted to what you felt was discriminatory treatment in the workplace (either for your religion or your disability or a combination of these items), then your best action here is to contact your state's office of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and file a complaint with the EEOC for workplace discrimination. It costs nothing to file a complaint and they will look into the matter on your behalf and if they determine that you did suffer from unlawful discrimination then they will advise you to take the next step and hire an attorney to pursue a civil lawsuit against the employer. Here is a link to the Indianapolis EEOC office where you can get information on complaints and how to file: http://www.eeoc.gov/field/indianapolis/

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I truly wish I could give you an immediate solution here so that you can get your job back or at least payment of some kind for what you have been through. However, no such immediate solution exists in the law and it would be unprofessional of me to lie to you or to gloss over the truth in order to make you artificially pleased with my answer. I hope that you keep that in mind when pressing a rating button below and you will press the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below so I will be paid for my time.

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MARY

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry. I knew all the information you stated. I was hoping for something different than what I already knew. :(

Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Rebecca -

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If you knew the information that I stated then the reason you asked a lawyer about it is to confirm that information and thus I have done the job that I was asked to do. My job is not to lie to you and tell you something that you want to hear just to get a good service rating. My job is to tell you what the law is regarding the facts that you give in your question. Thus there is no reason for a "poor service rating" and quite unfair to issue one. If you sought confirmation then you should have phrased your question such as this "This is the information I have regarding medical leave, FMLA and wrongful termination -- can you confirm if this is correct ....or tell me something different so that I can get my job back?"

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If you are on a subscription plan it will cost you nothing to leave a positive rating and if you went to a law office for a consult on this question the lawyer would charge you for the answer whether you knew it beforehand or not.

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Mary

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