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  1. #1
    Lostfiniel is offline Junior Member
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    Firing/Quitting while on Disability

    I live in California, if that is needed. I was working with a small company (around 15 employees total, one location) for less than a year when I began having panic attacks daily. The first time it happened, I went to the E.R. thinking it was a heart attack. I began seeing a therapist and I was told I had Generalized Anxiety disorder and Panic Disorder. The therapist recommended that I begin short term disability while we try to work through it. She wrote a letter to my employer stating that I would be taking a month off for disability and would hopefully be returning January 21st.

    I made sure that they received a copy via email along with my suggestion that any questions on the matter should be referred to my therapist. I also began State Disability, receiving money from the state while I was out from work. I know the state called these employers as well to confirm my situation.

    Late December, they sent a letter saying that I was on unexcused leave. The letter stated that if I did resign to let them know. Or, if I didn't respond to the letter within three business days of the date on the letter, that it would be considered a voluntary resignation. Even though I was still within the dates my therapist had suggested I take off for disability. I had received the letter later than I should have as I was with my family for the holidays. Early January there was another letter from the company which I had trouble acquiring since they had sent it with signature required. When I called the office, they told me it was my W-2 and final check. Believing that I was no longer an employee, I no longer sent them updates from my therapist despite the fact that I am still on disability.

    Today I finally got a chance to drive to the office and pick up the W-2 and check. This is when things get strange. I was told I was still an employee and that I was the one who had not done things correctly. There was a stack of warnings they had me sign saying that I had taken unexcused absences. I was told I needed to sign them before I left stating that I had seen them. I was also told I had to give them a letter of resignation before I left but I insisted I would be comfortable writing and sending one from home. I was in the office with the owner and the head accountant. The head accountant pulled out a resignation letter she had written up on my behalf and insisted that I sign it there and then. I told her I would rather write something of my own and she said that she would shred the letter once I signed it (So, what is the point?) The owner saw I was not giving in and let that issue slide.

    So now I am trying to figure out what to do. They want a letter of resignation from me, but I also feel like they are trying to cover something up. The "copy" they gave me of the letter they sent does not match at all with the letter I originally got. The wording has been changed all together. They are acting very sketchy about this whole situation and I have no clue what to do from this point.

    It should be noted that I have full medical records that verify my disability status from December until today. I also saved all the emails and letters that have been passed between me and the company. I know my story matches up with the documents I have, but nothing they are saying makes sense.
  2. #2
    pattytx is offline Senior Member
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    Cover up what?

    Your employer is too small to be subject to the FMLA and CFRA, which are the only laws which would protect your job; being on disability does not, in and of itself, do that.

    I would not, however, resign. When you are released to return to work, your chances for unemployment benefits will be greater if you don't quit. If they want to fire you, let them. It would be a legal termination.
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  3. #3
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    There is nothing in the law that says you cannot be fired while on disabilty leave. Since FMLA did not apply, you are entitled to as much leave as your employer is willing to give you, no more and no less. There is no need for the employer to "cover up" anything since they have acted within the law.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  4. #4
    Lostfiniel is offline Junior Member
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    My belief is that they would rather have me resign than be fired. I believe the changes in the letter and their information not lining up are efforts to prevent me from collecting unemployment should disability end and I find myself without a job. The information I originally got from them indicated I was no longer employed. I believe their "cover up" is nothing more than them wanting me to leave on resignation instead.

    I would not take issue with them firing me. But, I have trouble understanding why the situation has gotten to this point. From my perspective, I had something happen to me that prevented me from working. I took the steps necessary to deal with this and now I am facing a company who is pressuring me in the strangest ways. It just doesn't sit well with me.

    My question is ultimately whether or not I should resign or let them go through the process of firing me.
    Last edited by Lostfiniel; 03-30-2011 at 07:02 PM.
  5. #5
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    I'm sure they would rather have you resign than be fired. That doesn't mean you have to give them what they want. But if they do fire you, it's legal.

    You need to be aware that for a company as small as that one, even a short absence has a negative affect on business. An extended absence makes matters very difficult for the employer. There are two sides to this story, not just one.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  6. #6
    Lostfiniel is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    I'm sure they would rather have you resign than be fired. That doesn't mean you have to give them what they want. But if they do fire you, it's legal.

    You need to be aware that for a company as small as that one, even a short absence has a negative affect on business. An extended absence makes matters very difficult for the employer. There are two sides to this story, not just one.
    I certainly agree. I felt terrible for having done this to them to begin with. I liked the company, it was working out well. This would be the first time in a decade of jobs that I will be leaving on poor terms but I honestly don't know how I could fix this. I don't want to screw myself out of getting unemployment if it comes to that. I've never received it before but with hospital and therapy bills piling up, I would need it now more than ever. I would never consider getting unemployment if I left a job for some trivial issue. But, I really genuinely feel that I did as much as I could to keeping things going well and they had told me today that either I resign or they fire me. There was no hint of any other possibilities.
  7. #7
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Then you let them fire you so you can get unemployment. It's not going to look bad for you for future employment, if that's what you're worried about; future employers will understand that a small company was not able to hold your job open while you were on extended medical leave.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  8. #8
    commentator is offline Senior Member
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    Yes, if you are not on FMLA, which you are not, you can certainly be fired, legally. However, if you are terminated due to a medical condition, then when you are released by your doctor to return to work, and since you have been fired, your company has not got any work for you, they will decide that you have been out of work through no fault of your own, as illness (verified by a doctor's statement) is not considered something you had control over, and you will be approved to draw unemployment benefits while you look for another job.

    And the current employer's unemployment account will be affected They'll have to pay more taxes. And they hate that. But if you resign, agree to leave because you were too sick to work, then you won't be eligible for unemployment. They're off the hook for the raise in their rates. They love that.

    DO NOT resign. You didn't resign. You are out of work, not by your own decision. I agree with cbg, this will not affect your ability to find new jobs. You were forced to leave your job due to circumstances beyond your control after working there successfully for a period of time.

    One thing, as soon as you have anything official saying you were fired, as in RIGHT NOW, file for unemployment benefits, even if you have not actually been released to work right now. Because if you wait much longer to file the claim, you will not have enough covered wages in the appropriate quarters to make up a claim, each quarter that passes when you are not working is a blank quarter in your monetary eligibility. given your short duration with this company, depending on where you worked before this, you may not have monetary eligibility to draw unemployment benefits anyhow. If this is the case, there will be no issue of quit or resigned, you will not be able to get unemployment, regardless of your circumstances or how desperately you might need benefits.

    If you go on and file the claim now, and you do have enough wages to make up a claim, it is in effect for a year from the date filed, and you can begin to draw it as soon as you are released by your doctor.
    Last edited by commentator; 03-31-2011 at 07:43 AM.

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