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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12784
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I work at Lowe's. I'm currently on an unpaid medical leave.

Customer Question

I work at Lowe's. I'm currently on an unpaid medical leave. I don't have any FMLA time left so my extended leave is "pending" meaning the Lowe's corporate HR or some dept has to approve my extended leave. My HR manager has been very difficult. She sent me a certified letter stating I needed my doctor to write a letter stating all my medical issues by (a certain date) or they would assume I've resigned my position. First of all, any leave is taken care of through a 3rd party business (Reed Group). Secondly, my store, HR, store manager....none of them need to know EXACTLY what's going on with me. Because it's all taken care of through the Reed Group, I never need to tell them anything. I called the Reed Group asking them if she can do this. They said they didn't think so and gave me Lowe's corporate HR's phone # ***** call. Lowe's corporate HR said no, she can't do that. So I let my HR manager know she can't ask me to do that and that corporate said if they had any questions to call them. She got an attitude and then told me I was supposed to be calling in EVERY single day when I wasn't going to be at work and that she had told me that before. I told her I don't recall her ever saying that. Why would I have to do that anyways if I'm on a leave? There's more about her invading my privacy but I want to see if I have any kind of case to sue them based on what I'm telling you here. I don't know what type of case it would be. Defamation? Discrimination based on health? Please help!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. I am very sorry to hear about your manager's annoying and harassing conduct.
At this point, having exhausted your FMLA leave, there is only one remaining law that protects you, and this is the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA requires employers to "reasonably accommodate" employees suffering from disabling medical conditions. "Reasonable accommodations" can include extending an employee's FMLA protected leave, but only to the extent that such extension does not impose undue hardship on the employer.
Your employer is free to request medical verification of your illness. However, they cannot request specific details of your medical condition as they seem to be doing. There is also no reason why they should need to have you check in every day. You have been absent from work for more than 12 weeks, and it is reasonable to assume that your condition is not going to improve so much within one day as to warrant daily updates.
These tactics seem to be a pattern of behavior intended to harass you, which is illegal under the ADA. The difficult thing is that while the conduct may be illegal, your only damages at this point are for emotional distress. Unless your emotional distress has manifested into physical symptoms (i.e. you have been taken to the ER for panic attacks) or driven you to seek mental health counseling, a jury would be unlikely to award much in damages, making a lawsuit not worth the time and money to pursue.
Therefore, the better course of action at this stage would be to document your manager's conduct in writing, both in letters to corporate and to your store explaining that you are doing everything you can to cooperate with reasonable verifications of your continuing disability but that daily "reports" are not required or you, nor are specific medical details about your condition and that you regard such conduct as deliberately harassing and in violation of the ADA. This may get the conduct to stop on its own, but if it doesn't and you are eventually terminated, you have built a strong case that your termination was illegal and in retaliation for you asserting your rights under the ADA.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello again, I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator. In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.Very best wishes.