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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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I am off on medical leave and my doctor has completed the required

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I am off on medical leave and my doctor has completed the required FMLA paperwork. My employer has asked for addituonal information twice stating that the doctor was not specific enough on some of the questions. I have done eveything they ask me to do each time but gets calls or emails from them of a threatening nature as far as my job security. A VP of the company has called me at home twice to discuss my attendance issues and and whether or not i could return to my job even stating that i need to do some soul searching as to whether i should return because obviously the stress from the job is making me sick. I told him the stress of the job is not entirely the problem but the harassment by my boss who reports directly to him. I had even sent an email to this VP in March asking for his help regarding my boss's continued bad behavior. This is not sexual harassment but more of a discriminatory harassmnt due to some emotional issues i have endured with a dieing parent for the past3 years. My father passed in feb of this year and i was told that i needed to toughen up all the while i had been discussing my uncontrollable emotional state of depression with my boss who began harassing me and making rude degrading comments about me. She even told me she was sick of my makeup smeared all thhe time because other employees keep asking her what is wrng with me. She humiliated me like this in front of other employees. All of this finally took its toll on me and i became very sick. On tuesday i received another call from this same vp pressuring me into tesigning using the fact that i told him i am having alot of anxiety regarding facing my boss. He sent me a severance letter wanting me to resign with 3 weeks severance but i have to state i will not sue the company in any way or disclose any of the agreement to anyone and all kimd of protections for the company. Each time they call me like this talking badly of my workand how i handled things it makes me sicker and i am truly afraid to return at this point. Can they do this?

Thank you for the information and your question. If your employer is targeting you for harassment because of a real or perceived disability, then that would be unlawful discrimination. In addition, if you qualify for FMLA, which of course does not require hospitalization as long as your doctor certifies that you have a serious health condition for which you need to be out of work for at least 3 days and is continuing, your employer cannot take an adverse action against you for being on, or askng for, FMLA. They cannot use your attendance during FMLA qualified time against you and cannot harass you because of your status under FMLA.

So, although I couldn't guess the ultimate outcome of your case, since I do not have all of the facts, including those from the employer's perspective, I can tell you that you should seriously consider sitting down with a local employment law attorney who deals with FMLA and disability discrimination issues to discuss your case in detail and come up with a plan of action. You can also, if you choose, file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor for the FMLA issues, and with the EEOC for the disability discrimination/harassment issues.

Please let me know if you have any specific follow up questions for me. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Marsha411JD and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am scheduled to go back to work on july 9th but as i told the vp i am afraid and feel alot of anxiety which makes me sick. I havent had an income in the four weeks i have been off. I wouldnt have been off this long if they hadnt called me at home during them time talking about my attendance and emotjonal stability. I dont know if i can return to this job for my own health but if i quit i will be denied unemployment benefits until i can find another job. They fight everyone on their unemployment so i know it will be more stress. If i ask for continued leave i am sure my doctor would agree but its unpaid and i have to pay my bills. My doctor agrees that i need a different job.
Well, I can understand that if this job is not good for your health, you need to find a way to move on. But again, you still have those other legal actions available to you whether you go back to work or not. So, I would still recommend you at least sit down with a local attorney or file the complaints I mentioned.

As far as quitting and qualifying for unemployment benefits. You would have to prove that you quit for good cause attibutable to your job. So, you would have to either prove to the Unemployment Commission that your employer engaged in unlawful discrimination or retatliation and that you tried to resolve it and could not, or that you had to quit for medical reasons but can still work at other jobs.

Otherwise, you may want to start actively looking for another job before you quit.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I have already began my search but this entire ordeal has been so damaging to my self esteem and intensified my depression and emotions. I cant contol my cryingand anxiety so i dont know with a 100% certainity that i can work. I do know with 100% certainty that i cant rwturn to my job with thia employer due to it being an unsafe work envirinment fir me. The Vp has basically tols me that my boss did nothing wrong and said i miaunderatood her comment about being in the hospital to qualify for Fmla. The severance pkg to me insicates their wrongsoing and the fact thwy think i am deaperate for money. Is that typical of a company to due during an employees leave? Also i am the safety manager and was tild on numerous occasions to not ask questions aboit unsafe events that occured which added to my emotional stress.
No, an employer should not normally make contact with the employee for these kind of issues while the employee is out on FMLA. That is why I mentioned that the constant contact, if initiated by the employer and not for the direct purpose of making sure you had submitted your FMLA paperwork, along with the other actions, were probably retaliation or at least harassing. But that said, if your employer is offering you a good enough severance package, then you might consider taking it if it gives you some income while you can find a more suitable job. But you should still go over it and the facts with a local attorney before you decide.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I apologize for the mispellings. I am on a tiny phone trying to type this all in plus my hand keeps going numb.One last question regarding a new problem that i feel this stress has aggravated. Throughout this ordeal my doctor has put me off to get me out of this environment and hopefully allow me to get well mentally; however since day 1 i have had to spend this time defending myself to the company. My boss even called asking me questions about some training i had scheduled. As i imdicated above i had to contact the ADOL and they advised that i takr lots and lots of notes tegarding all incidents so i have been. For the last few ngts my right arm has woke me up hurting and numb and feels like my fingers are swollen. My dictor said it aounds like caroal tunnel. My job requirwd lots of typing and repetitive wriat movement. Now i am afraid for that. The pain is severe and wakes me up. Should i mention this to them or i am fearful that again i will be called a liar and harassed.been
You can file a Workers Compensation claim if you believe this is work related. That is your only recourse for a workplace injury, such as carpel tunnel. They must send you to their doctor for evaluation for purposes of the claim. They will either accept your claim and provide you with treatment (which they must do whether you are still employed or not after you file your claim) or they will deny it saying it is not work related. If they deny, then you will need a WC attorney to assist you in pursuing the claim.

I am going to step away from my office for a while. If you have further follow up questions, I will respond as soon as I get back.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am just fearful regatding the timing of this and why now? Although my doctor didnt officially see me for this she did indicate that emotional stress can trigger or aggravate other health issues. I know this because i also take medication from back surgery six years ago. I tend to have flareups during high stress days in which my pain medication doesnt help. I also know that for this to wake me up out of a sound sleep that somethg is wrong which is again creating more stress. I just dont want this to take away from the other issues of discrimination and harassment. I have tolerated so much from this employer during the roughest time of my life. My dad died a little each day for 3 years only to be told by my boss who by the way is the human relations manager that she lost her dad and thatshe was sick of my emotional issues stating after he passed that i had got out of her all the emotional support she had and she was done. Her emotional support was in threatening my job if i didnt smile and fix my makeup before i walked through the door. I didnt look at my job as just a job but it was my career and i loved it.
Well, I can understand your concern and it is not without merit. However, you will ultimately need to make your own decision about this, but your only recourse for a workplace related injury like carpel tunnel is a WC claim. You will want to discuss stradegy, if you decline the severance, with your attorney.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I just wish i felt more emotionally stable to handle their harassment and by the way signing their severance agteement states that i cant bring any kimd of suit or allegations against them. They are currently being being investigated by osha on safety violations at their rogers facility of whic was on leave during the complaint. I was told to do not talk to anyone regarding any safety issues. This concerns me that i may become their fall guy by signing this. I will seek legal help and thank you for your advice. Can i print and use this communication if necessary for my own notes on items i have addressed?
You're welcome and yes, you can print our discussion of the law by either printing from your home computer browser's print function. Or, if you look at your very first post, on the lower right hand side you will see a rectangle that says "share." You can click on that and it has a print function.

Once you are satisfied that we have covered all the issues you want to discuss, please don't forget to leave a positive rating for my assistance, so that I get credit for working with you today. Thank you and best of luck to you!