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Ask Legalease Your Own Question
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 16379
Experience:  13 years experience in employment law, unions, contracts, workers comp law
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I live in Topeka Kansas I am currently 100% disabled through

Customer Question

I live in Topeka Kansas I am currently 100% disabled through the VA for service connected PTSD and major depressive disorder. I was in a 5 year apprenticeship through a local IBEW union and was 2 months away from having the on the job hours needed to complete the apprenticeship before I was forced to cease training. I had passed all of my written and practical application tests needed to graduate the apprenticeship given to me by the state of Kansas and through the apprenticeship at the time of my departure. I had been missing work due to my depression and PTSD issues which in turn began to cause problems with the contractors who hire apprentices through the apprenticeship. I had ask multiple times from my apprenticeship director to allow me to go to the VA once or twice a week for an hour at a time to get treatment and counseling in hopes of getting well again but I was told that I could not continue working and seek help at the same time. I was forced to make the decision to suspend my training to seek help. At the time I was rated 40% disabled by the VA and I had informed my director of this and brought in written proof from the VA backing my claim up. I was told that he would "do me a favor and not tell anyone I had shown him the documentation". I began therapy on a full time basis from the VA 15 months ago and have since then had my disability increased to 100%. I just received a call from my director saying I needed to send in a signed letter stating that I voluntarily quit the apprenticeship on my own accord. I ask him if I could get a letter from him stating that once I was well again I could return to the apprenticeship to which he said no that was for the committee to decide. I was not fired from any contractor I was not kicked out by the apprenticeship committee and I want to know if what they did or are currently doing is legal.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Legalease replied 2 years ago.
Hello there.
I am sorry for the delay in responding -- this is the first time I have seen your question so I am uncertain why it has remained on the list for so long.
Under the circumstances, the IBEW was your employer for all intents and purposes and they are acting in conformance with employment law. You see, if you go out on disability from an employer, the employer must hold your position open for you for at least 12 weeks under the Family Medical Leave Act. Once the 12 weeks has passed and if you cannot return to your full apprenticeship duties with them, then they have the right to decide whether or not they will terminate your position completely, or to hold your job open for you OR to permit you to return to some other position (if they have one -- but it does not have to be at the same level of pay or benefits (it can be any job they want to offer you)).
I do find it odd that they are asking you to resign from the position rather than simply terminate you as they are permitted to do under employment laws -- THe only explanation I can think of for their request is that they do not want to be seen as the "bad guy" here even if they are permitted to take termination action pursuant to the FMLA. It seems that they are simply wanting to open the spot for someone else because such apprenticeships are scarce and hard to get into. It really is up to you whether or not you want to accommodate this request (you can simply tell them to terminate you from the program), but if you do write a resignation letter then you should state in the letter that it was due to PTSD which you receive treatment for and that you hope that the committee will consider reinstating you for the last few months that it will take to earn your full license if there comes a day that you are able to return to the program.
Please press a positive rating under this ANSWER box so I get credit for answering your question today. If you have further questions, please ask and even if you have pressed a positive rating I will still respond for several weeks after this question was posted. THANK YOU