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  1. #1
    mbeth000 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Unhappy Firing due to medical reasons.

    I live in Florida.

    I am 19 years old and have worked at this info marketing/sales company since 1/13/09, i started out in sales and was promoted twice where i settled into the administration position(reception/assistant). In June my longtime boss quit and i received a new boss who consequently, fired almost everyone but myself to start "fresh." Around the same timeframe i became very, very ill and had to be hospitalized from 7/13 to 7/17, my boss called while i was hospitalized to assure me that my job was safe and that he was eager for me to get well and come back to work. I returned back to work on 7/20/09 and worked my regular shift from 10 AM to 9 PM (yes this was everyday.) Tuesday the 21st i informed my boss and the accountant downstairs that i would have to have a surgery Aug 3rd and would be out for 2 weeks thereafter. A couple hours later my boss pulled me into his office and told me that "my position had been eliminated and that the company was parting ways with me." The next day i signed up for unemployment. Today i called the outsourcing company that handled the payroll & health insurance for my company ( i got my health insurance through my employer ) and they informed me that they had been told that i "voluntarily" left my position and that my premium was going to be $300 instead of the $86 it would have been to keep my insurance valid through the date i have to have my surgery. I called to speak with the accountant who told me he would not change it because my boss had told him that i turned down an offer for a different position, which he never offered me & i would have to speak with him. My boss would not speak with me nor return my phone calls, so i turned to HIS boss, who also would not speak with me or return my phone calls. Now i believe i won't get unemployment as well!

    I feel so wronged by this company i was loyal & worked hard for!
    They fired me knowing how sick i was and that i would need my insurance for my surgery. If that wasnn't enough now they are trying to wrong me at every turn! I just do not know what to do, please let me know if i have a case here! Discrimination against me because of my medical problems? I have never been written up at this job for any reason or ever had any disciplinary problems! If this helps i also never signed anything when i was "terminated"!
    Last edited by mbeth000; 07-30-2009 at 01:34 PM.
  2. #2
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    34,136
    No, you do not have a "case" for anything.

    Since you had worked there for less than a year, you were not eligible for any kind of protected medical leave. They were not obligated under the law to provide you with any medical leave at all; you had already missed several days and were going to need an additional two weeks. They had no legal obligation to - in fact, they legally could not - keep your insurance in place for any longer than the plan document says, which is almost always either the last day of employment or the last day of the month in which the last day of employment occurs. It sounds as if you were offered COBRA which is all they are legally required to do.

    This is not illegal discrimination. I don't know where comes the idea (well, actually I do know but it's irrelevant) that you cannot be fired for absences that are for medical reasons but it is simply not true.

    It doesn't matter whether you had been disciplined for anything or not; it doesn't matter whether you signed anything at termination or not. The termination was legal. Maybe less than compassionate, but legal.

    Have your surgery, get well, apply for unemployment and look for a new job. But forget about suing - there's no legal grounds to sue in your post.

    Good luck to you.
  3. #3
    LSchmid is offline Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    55
    The only other thing I would add to CBG's post is that, since you are stating your termination was involuntary, you would qualify for the COBRA ARRA discount which requires you to pay only 35% of your monthly COBRA premium. Information regarding this option should be included in your COBRA paperwork, of which you should get shortly.

    If you do not get this information, you can contact the DOL to file an appeal and they will determine whether or not you are a qualified individual.
  4. #4
    commentator is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    4,818

    commentator

    Have you heard from your unemployment insurance yet? Be very careful, because you must be "able, available and actively seeking employment" in order to be able to draw unemployment. No "I'm sick and can't work till after I have this next surgery." But since you were back at work when you were let go, and you were let go through no fault of your own, you did the right thing to file now, before you go in for this next surgery and see if you qualify, if you have enough wages. If you have worked somewhere else before you worked for this company, you'll have wages in the standard base period enough to set up a claim. If not, you must request that they use something called the "alternative base period", which means the most recent quarters you have worked. You did well to start this process immediately by filing your claim. Fight for this. Unemployment insurance is your only legal recourse.

    You will not be able to draw, even if approved until you are released by your doctor as fully able to return to work. But better to be working on the situation and have an approved claim out there to draw when you are released. They can be doing the fact finding, the adjudication, the contacting of the employer and making of the initial decision before you begin filing for weeks of benefits. A claim is in place for a year after it is set up, so you might as well begin right away.

    Your employer is not going to be the one who says whether you get to draw or not. You will file the claim. If you have enough wages in either of the base periods to qualify you, the claims office will take your statement. Be sure you tell them exactly what you were told by your employer as to why they were letting you go. Be sure you have a doctor's statement to cover the dates when you were absent that you can present to the unemployment office. Your doctor should be glad to provide you with this.

    They decided to fire you when they found you would have to have additional surgery in the future. They did not, of course, offer you any other job which you refused. Your word is just as believable as theirs on this issue. They fired you, within their legal rights to do so, though that's pretty terrible, because you've been out ill so much and they think you may be out again in the future. This was not misconduct on your part, which you can very easily document by producing doctor's statements concerning your absences.

    This is what being out with a doctor's statement means. You can be fired by the company anyway, but you will not be denied unemployment benefits if they fire you for these absences, because they are absences you could not have helped having.

    If you receive an initial denial of benefits, be sure that even if you are in the hospital, you get that request for an appeal submitted back in to the unemployment office within the time period given to request an appeal. Then you can go in and work on getting the initial decision overturned and an approval for benefits made.

    COBRA is all the company has to give you, with a significant raise in your costs, since you will now have to pay the whole premium. They do not legally have to be nice to you or help you out in any way related to your health care, which sort of explains why we need reform, maybe?

    Do apply for all the assistances now out there now working in many states helping with paying these premiums. Once you are approved for your unemployment, you should qualify for such assistance if your state has it, though it may be tied in with your approval on the unemployment claim and income guidelines. I sure hope Florida has it in place by now. They weren't being very excited about taking the stimulus money at first. By all means, try to come up with the money to pay your COBRA and keep your insurance in force for the time being, even without assistance. This is paramount. You can't have your surgery uninsured. There will be time later to work out paying for everything.

    Speak to the Department of Child and Family Services in your county as soon as you are able (I think this is called ACCESS in Florida). Ask them for all the health care premium suppliments and other income support they can suggest. You should qualify before long, even if your income is too high right at this time. You will need all the assistance you can get to keep yourself financially afloat until you recover your health. Best of wishes to you as you fight this through.
    Last edited by commentator; 07-30-2009 at 04:45 PM.

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