Can you get fired for being sick?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by upallnight, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Here's the thing, I had been out of work on that 12 week Federal Family leave program. My 12 weeks end in April, I think the 19th. I work in a school. My problem is anorexia, in other words, phychiatric. I do not have tenure. I have never been written up or any have had strikes against me in any form, all my yearly observations done by my principal have been glowing.

    I know I need a Dr's note to come back, which I may not get by the 19th because I still only weigh 91 pounds. I just ate a bag of jellybeans, mashed potatos and 2 ice cream sandwiches. I think I can get the note if I try.

    But, the school wants my Dr's records. WTH? My union said not to sign the clearance, but I just spoke to the head of my Special Education dept and he needs it, because he says this isn't like a broken arm. First of all I can't sign it until I'm ready to go back because he'll see how much I weigh right now!!!! The exact same as when I left! But in a way, I do want him to see that I don't have an underlying condition like depression or bipolar, and although I do have anxiety, I don't take medication, I'm weaned off all of it.

    If I don't go back on the 19th, my union said I could put in a request, and ask for more time without my benefits. They can say, "Yes" or "No". No would mean I'm fired. Like I stated, I have no tenure. Would it be legal to fire me for this? Maybe because it's psychiatric it would be. I'm just going to keep eating, I'm meeting husband for lunch every day at his job- so we can eat together, tonight we are going out to dinner, I know I can gain.

    This could also happen, I get the note and I'm ready for the 19th, and the school refuses me back. The union told me this may happen if I sign the release. The school may not like what they see.
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    This almost goes along with Star's thread:

    This is not 'legal' in the truest definition, but it happens all the time. I was fired for being sick....but of course, it was phrased "Well, we really needed to get that position filled and since you were not available...".

    Take the advice of your union. Do NOT sign the release. Request more time unpaid.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Go to someone in the union who is knowledgeable about the subject. Maybe above your standard rep. This is why you have a union.

    Do NOT file the release, it's an invasion of privacy and probably a HIPPA violation. (might want to check that with your doctor office) They do NOT want to start violating HIPPA laws, deep sticky waters those.....

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member can't get fired for being sick, but they can fire you for another bogus reason and say that's why. One example was the post above this. Another sneaky weapon they use is to allow you to come back and suddenly you start getting written up until they get you to quit (this way they don't have to pay unemployment) or fire you. It's very unfair, but that's how it is.

    I would not allow them to see your records! That is none of their business. If they fire you over that, then you can collect unemployment benefits and probably appeal to your union.
  5. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Hi UAL - I am answering briefly as I am on my phone. I can't tell what state you are in - employment law is governed by state & it varies greatly.

    I have limited knowledge of FMLA - but I do know that if you do not return after 12 weeks, your job is no longer protected. However, your union agreement or state law may supersede that. Special rules also apply to school workers. Your place of employment has the right to request medical certification of your leave -from your physicians -but they are NOT entitled to your records. I would sign a release allowing your dr to medically certify your leave but specifically denying the release of your personal health information.

    I think you need to speak to a union advocate in person and definitely who specializes in personal leave labor issues. Xing my fingers for you {{hugs}}
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I would not sign the release. Your entire medical records do not pertain to this particular episode. What many HR departments do is request the doctor's notes pertaining to this particular illness, which is reasonable. Perhaps you could speak with the person asking for the release and suggest that.

    Under the law, they cannot fire you for illness. However, they can give away your position and simply offer you something else when you do return. Or, as others have stated, they can fire you for something else entirely separate from your illness for bogus reasons....

    I think you need to speak with someone else in your union to be certain what your exact rights are and what your next step should be.

    As an aside, be careful about trying to put on weight to quickly just to get that doctors note. It could act as a trigger and cause you to slip again. Just be careful, hugs.
  7. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If you can no longer perform the duties of your job due to your illness, it is possible that they can fire you. Are you a union worker? This is exactly the type of situation that a union can help you with.
  8. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I already talked to my union rep who is the only one in the county who knows all the ins and outs of this situation. He's the one who told me not to sign and all that's needed is a dr's note saying I'm able to do my exact duties. But I mentioned this to my boss, head of Special Education (I should call HR), and he said that if I had a broken arm arm, yes, but since it's not, then no. I'm waiting for this particular man to call me back again, I spoke to him a few weeks ago and he said for me not to sign. I just want to make sure everything is legal. And I don't want to get my boss mad at me, because then he will fire me, right? on the other hand, I already filed for disability in case I'm just "like this" and actually do get fired. I really can't just lose this weight again if I force it on, plus I will be freaking I am now.....every time I eat too much. Even though I know I need to, I can't be this scared because I ate. Now I'm going out to lunch........I just have to breathe.
  9. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Again-it needs to be verified-but my understanding is that after 12 weeks of protected leave-an employee who does not return from that leave may be terminated. However, an employee who needs more than 12 weeks MAY meet the definition of "disabled" and therefore could be protected under the ADA and/or could be entitled to disability pay. It requires a higher standard of proof. Does your union offer disability?

    There are also caveats for school employees who have shorter "years" that may require you work x amount of days per term. I don't know the details but I remember my friend having to go back for a few days before the end of term to preserve her job.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi there, sorry this is happening. Please do not release your records. They can twist things. You might suggest that if he has specific concerns he can write them in a letter and you are willing to get the answers to those specific questions. That way he can't go on any fishing expedition. If he refuses you can just follow the letter of the law and get the doctor's note. Is it linked only to weight? If you are eating better that would be the most important, right?

    I hope you dont mind if I ask this, but do you think maybe it is time to just take a leave so that you are not denied tenure. I think that what is likely to happen is, if they can't legally dismiss you now, when your tenure decision comes up it will be denied and then you will be out of your job permanently in that district. Those are union rules usually because otherwise they can drag tenure decisions out and people are left hanging. If you choose to take a year's leave, how would that affect you instead? Since you have applied for disability that could be a way for you to actually get better. You seem to be saying you really are not ready to go back to work anyway. Forcing on some weight then freaking out about it does not sound like it will help you and of course that is what I (and I am not the one who has to pay your mortgage I know....) am more concerned about.

    HUGS my friend, I hope this goes your way.....
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT let them see your records. That is a violation of your rights for them to even ASK.

    The law ONLY requires a doctor's note that states you are released to full duties. They may have a form they wish for the doctor to fill out - my company does, and we are union, too. Just a return to work release is what it is called, and it does not mean they get to see everything, only what the doctor writes down.

    On our return to work release forms it asks for a diagnosis/resolution. Last year I had to turn one in because I was voluntarily off work for 3.5 days. I put MYSELF on bedrest but the supervisor could not understand why I would do such a thing - and she KNEW I had a high risk pregnancy!!! So the doctor put on there - "SELF RX'D BED REST - DOCTOR DID NOT RX" and signed that I could go back to full duties. And that was IT.
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    in my opinion Signorina has the best grasp of the law. You mentioned something about them seeing you and not letting you back? THAT would be illegal. If you are still ill, but the Dr says you are OK to do your job, but the employer doesn't like that? That firing would be illegal.

    The whole point of the family leave law was to give ppl a fair chance to get healthy or their family members healthy but still have the job to return to. Not every extended illness lasts forever. This cannot be an indefinite kind of thing. I'm guessing if you ask for more time, they will ask how much more? A week, a month, do you know? It can't just keep going on.

    I say listen to the advice of the union rep. It's your best course of action and hopefully will end up with the results you want.
  13. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I can never get tenure because classroom assistants can never get it. I pay out of pocket for a long term disability thing, which I do get now....but it only lasts 2 years for this problem, and a couple years ago I used up 8 months of that. But I don't get my full paycheck. Anything after the 19th, if they extended it, is without benefits, husband has great benefits anyway, but only I had the dental, his doesn't.

    Disability from the govt would only be half of my paycheck. But I really need to just * this and get better. I have to talk to that man from the union and get exact wording to say to my boss, and I have to write it down. I am not going to sign as long as I can go to work by the 19th. Last time this happened I DID sign it,AND they sent me to their own p-doctor, who agreed to keep me at work, but this time he may not.....because my boss may tell him not to allow it's like, "her again?" I think there will be serious problems here and I really may be fired, I'm scared. I live in NJ. Thank you for all your replies.
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If you are forced to sign something in order to return to work, sign it "Signed as receipt only", then your name. This makes this a non-agreement. It says you understand what they are saying, but this is not a legal agreement.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Do NOT ever sign to let them see your records or talk to your doctor. the MOST they can reasonable expect is to give a list of questions for your doctor to answer If you agree to it. you do not have to. The fact that this is a psychiatric disease makes NO difference in the FMLA law. the law says medical problem, not "medical or psychiatric" or:" medical and psychiatric but if it is psychiatric then do these forms and make sure they are not nuts". The very nature of anorexia does not make you a danger to anyone but yourself and frankly, their request is incredibly out of line and a good lawyer might say you could sue them just for asking for your records. it IS discrimination against you for them to ask for your records because you were sick with a psychiatric disorder. in my opinion you need to talk with the union rep a bit more and see if the union has an atty you could speak to, and when you DO talk to your boss about this you should ask why the extra info as the law does NOT require it and it could be considered discrimination against you because your condition. They probably do NOT want to risk a lawsuit because discrimination, in my opinion.

    The best way to handle this with-o letting them go fishing is to ask them to give you a list of questions that they need/want answers to and you will take it to your doctor and take the answers back to them. That way they can't go fishing. if someone looks hard enough they can probably find a reason in ANYONE"S medical charts to find a reason to fire them. This is WHY our medical records are PRIVATE and that includes psychiatric/psychological records especially. Heck, I know for a fact that my doctor and the therapist we love would refuse to show them the records even if we signed a release. They would have to get a court order because it is not in our best interest for anyone to see the complete records. School tried this with Wiz at one point and I refused so they went straight to the doctor and therapist claiming to have our signature but not being allowed to fax it because then anyone in the office toher than the doctor/therapist could see (in the doctor's office, not the school office). Both the doctor and therapist called BS and told me about it and told school that they could be sued for even asking. Of course the lady who did this had already signed my name on the IEP pages she added and the doctor and therapist both knew it.

    I know you don't want them to be upset with you, and I have a feeling that they want some assurance that a psychiatric disorder doesn't make you somehow a danger to children, but they cannot just fish around in your records for any reason. Tell them that they have to give you the form or any questions and you and your doctor will give them the answers that are appropriate.

    I am sorry this is so difficult. I hope you can get well in a healthy way. this is a terribly difficult disease and I know it leaves your body feeling so drained. (((((hugs)))))
  16. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    susiestar-Thank you!!!!!! That is perfect, I'm doing that. hugs!