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JackJD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 535
Experience:  I've been in practice 30+ years, concentrating on employment law for 15 years. I enjoy helping people.
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I am a current federal worker with 28 years of service. I am

Customer Question

I am a current federal worker with 28 years of service. I am currently the security manager for my agency and work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I have no history of dispensary problems and had just received a cash award and time off bonus on my civilian appraisal. A week later I was injured at work and filed a claim with DOL. Because I was under a doctor’s care and taking medication I was prescribed were narcotic’s or had similar side effects, my supervisors allowed me to telework while the paperwork was filed with the Department of Labor. The process has dragged on well over the 45 day period and I was still allowed to work from home. The problems started when my supervisors started demanding I work outside of my normal duty hours and while I was on my official sick leave. Then they asked me to falsify and official document that would give a high ranking person access to a restricted area and I refused. Immediately after that, they suspend my ability to telework and require me to report for duty, take leave or would be charged AWOL. Being that I am still under my doctor’s care, told that I should not operate a vehicle because of the pain medication I was taking, I opted to submit sick leave requests. It appears that my supervisors are not approving this leave and are demanding I report back to work. I have sent two emails to our director of HR and have not received a reply as of yet and I have recently filed a complaint with my agency’s Office of the Inspector General. We have no leave policy in place and I have requested leave in the same fashion and there was never an issue till I refused to work without complementation, while I was on sick leave and refused to falsify that official document.
- Can they force me to work while I am on my earned sick leave without pay?
- Can they force me to work outside of my normal 8 hour shift without pay?
- If they are aware I am under a doctor’s care, on medication, should they disapprove sick leave that I have earned and force me to work with threats of AWOL?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  JackJD replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I'll answer your questions. First, let me say that I am sorry to hear about how they are treating you.
It sounds like the basic issue here is retaliation for filing the workers comp claim. Instead of just batting back each tennis ball separately, I would look for a way to get the retaliation recognized and addressed.
The Federal Workers Compensation Act provides for representation by an attorney and in some cases your agency will be required to pay your attorney.
This is a very specialized area of practice, but in Virginia there are many attorneys doing this work. You would be well served by consulting one early in the process. What you have done so far will not hurt your case, but as you go on, your chances of making a misstep increase. A good place to look for an attorney is by contacting your county bar association's lawyer referral service. They will have a list of attorneys by area of practice and these attorneys will have agreed to do an initial consultation at minimal cost.
Your specific questions:

can they force me to work while on sick leave (meaning you have a doctor's statement that you are incapable of work)? No
Can they force me to work outside my normal shift? Yes, unless your doctor specifically restricts your hours or somewhere in the agency personnel regulations it says they can't)
Can they force you to work? No, as long as your doctor says you can't.
Lastly, you are qualified under the Family Medical Leave Act to 12 weeks leave (perhaps without pay) per year, for your medical needs. They are supposed to apply the FMLA if the facts fit, without you making a request, but I suggest that you bring the FMLA up in your next communication with HR.
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