Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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Your post raises multiple potential issues. First, if your employer has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of where you work, you were likely entitled to take FMLA leave to care for your mother. It is illegal to fire an employee in retaliation for that employee taking time off under the FMLA. So, this is a potential claim.
If asbestos was in your office and you develop any sort of health issue as a result of it, you would have a claim for workers compensation benefits.
You are absolutely entitled to the return of your money. You can warn your employer that if they don't return it soon you will report it to the police as stolen. You can also sue your employer for the money in small claims court.
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.