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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    FMLA & Unemployment

    Hello all. I am from NJ and I need help right now in answering something.

    I was recently at a job that I had held for a little over a year. Never had any prior issues with performance or complaints (more compliments along with a raise after a month and a half and a promotion within the first 3 months of being there). Nothing started until a new boss started. Right before the new boss came on board, my parent became deathly ill and required open heart surgery. Now, because I was professional & responsible, I worked daily (as I always had done), even while my parent was extremely close to death on more then one occasion. I promised my Regional that I would not take any leave after they let go of the prior supervisor until they found a replacement.

    With that being said, once the new one started, I foresaw many problems. This individual was extremely domineering, controlling, bragged about their "same sex" sexuality (even showing me their botched boob job...ewww) and I could go on. In any event, I dealt with their bullying and just brushed it off. Keep in mind, this was the type of person that always had something to say about how I wore my hair, what color "they" thought my hair should be, how "they" felt I should wear make up, etc. It seemed as though this person was doing everything they could to trip me up from arranging my personal space and office to "their" desires, telling me when I could and couldn't take breaks, calling me back from lunch long before I needed to return, removed the blinds from my window so they could watch me, etc.

    Well, my parent started to decline rapidly and developed more issues after surgery on top of the heart. I have POA over them and am the only relative they have to care for them, fight for their rights, sign documents and help them. I knew I needed to be more hands on with the medical staff and facility and I sensed something terrible was happening to my parent. When the time came, I applied for FMLA leave thru my new boss. The first thing that came out of their mouth was "what about me"? I explained that I would not be taking full days off and would gladly meet in the middle by working until 3pm but needed to leave by then so as I could get to the facility (whether it would be the rehab or hospital) before any dr's would leave. It was very obvious that my new boss did not like the idea of any sort of me not being there.

    I spoke with HR, was told things I already new (that I was entitled, it could be taken in increments, 12wks, unpaid leave, etc), however, it took HR a week to get me the papers after telling me they would over night them to my home. When I returned back to work, I inquired of them, explained to my boss they did not come and was brushed off. I stressed the importance to my supervisor and got no where. I sent a message to the next in the chain of command explaining what was happening. A couple of days later, they were emailed to me. I had problems with the attachment and let my supervisor know that. Eventually, after a few tries, I was able to print them. I had them filled out and submitted them back to HR.

    It was then, pretty much out of no where, that my new boss decided he was going to write me up. Most of the write up was bogus but it was noted in there that I became very angry that I did not get my FMLA papers and that I did not respect chain of command by not going to him first (which I did). I noted on the write up that I did not agree with what was stated nor the circumstances surrounding it. No one from HR called me to follow up.

    I attempted many times over a month and a half to take time off and was constantly prevented with one excuse after another as to why it wasn't a good time. When I explained, respectfully & professionally, what my rights were and explained the dire straight my parent was in and I actually feared for their life, my new boss would put their hand up in my face and tell me that they couldn't hear it or talk about it because they had lost a parent a few months ago. I would try to keep a finger on the pulse by making calls on my breaks and lunch but eventually was reprimanded for that as well with my new supervisor thinking the calls I was on were about them. It had reached a point that I insisted on taking time and was told that I needed to explain in detail what was wrong with my parent (which I know is illegal under HIPPA laws) but gladly did so if it would enlighten them to the urgent need. Even after that, I was still prevented.

    I was written up for a second time on more bogus charges that I was not performing my job to company standards, I intimidated other workers and was being insubordinate. It was at that time I was told by my boss that I needed to choose between my parent and my job and that NJ is an "at will" state. I refused to sign the write up this time knowing that I was being set up. My boss became irate that I would not sign the write up. When I attempted to discuss what was going on since they came on board (making me work until 8-9pm since I was salaried, lessening the work load on another co-worker and giving me their job responsibilities on top of me doing mine and still doing the new boss's work) I felt I was being set up to fail. Of course it was deny, deny, deny.

    So, bottom line was, I resigned the following day. Now, I know people will tell me "no you can't collect because you voluntarily left" but know this....the day after I resigned, my parent was rushed to the ER because the facility had over medicated them and almost killed them, confirming my worst fear was right all along! Now, my parent suffered perm kidney damage, liver damage and a small amount of brain damage! There has to be a way that I qualify for unemployment since the company violated my rights under FMLA. I can work and am able & ready to work but had I not made the decision I did, my parent, according to the hospital, would be dead today. Had I been allowed to take time, I (having extensive medical knowledge) could have stopped this much sooner or stopped it altogether.

    I have seen the company I worked for set many many people up, lie knowing that if they state insubordination and/or work performance, they can have people denied when it comes to unemployment, seen people click together (one lie the other swear to it). Unemployment is one thing they will fight tooth and nail no matter what they have to say or do. I must have some form of rights here. I also have a sick & disabled grandparent that lives with me that I care for and now I must give up my apartment due to all of what has transpired. I absolutely LOVED my job and what I did and saw myself staying with it for many years to come, however, this new manager did not want it that way and it was obvious to all.

    I would appreciate any and all advice on how to handle this. I know I was being set up for various reasons, some of which I did not name but it pertains to the company being sneaky (such as training their managers on what to do to keep people from getting raises, promotions and the like). Not to mention, I was also told that there was talk (yes, I realize hear say) that my position was no longer needed (which I contacted my old boss, explained what I heard to them and they confirmed the why's and how's). Bottom line is, they were trying any and every way they could to get me out the door but then use excuses (the write up's) that would keep me from collecting.

    I apologize for this being so long but I wanted the facts presented for a clear picture. Thank you for any help I receive.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Philadelphia, PA
    You will have a difficult, but not impossible, time proving constructive termination. But what you should have done BEFORE you quit was to contact the US DOL to report FMLA violations. Taking any adverse action against you for exercising your FMLA rights is ILLEGAL.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Thanks ECM

    I know the post was extremely long and felt that hindered a lot of people replying. No one was in the mood to read a "novel" (lol). Therefore, I appreciate you taking the time to answer it.

    Even though I know I was right for what I did, knew that there was no other choice, doesn't make this any easier and I'm still nervous. As I said, I have seen first hand what they have done to others and I just know they will try and do the same to me. I am just hoping against hope that unemployment will see that I did have "good cause" to do what I did. I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not in the other post but, even after my parent had the surgery, the company let go of a major key employee. I stayed religiously, every day, reassuring my Regional. Most of the time very late because they needed me and I was ok with that. Which in turn meant I did not get to see or visit with my parent right after the surgery but, the way I saw it, I was able to be dedicated to the Co. since my parent was initially in a medically induced coma. So the company can not say that I didn't try, which is why I know they will try other means to prevent me from collecting. For me at this stage, I can assure you that I have experience to go elsewhere and it sincerely isn't about "collecting" but, it's the principle for me now.

    I tried, I gave it my all (and then some) and really pushed to meet my boss half way once I qualified for FMLA assuring all that I was not going to take full days, just needed a couple of hours to see the dr's. Even after being told by HR that all I had to do was call in and tell the boss I was taking an FMLA day, I still respected that person as my boss but they ran with it as I said preventing me at every turn. What's worse is now my parent, from what I was just recently told, will never be the same again. From the impression I got, my parent is more or less slowly dying now because of what happened. There is no way to treat the various things that went wrong after the over-medicating that I was begging to have the time for to address, especially since I am POA. Also, I did make 2 attempts to call the DOL to make the complaint "prior" to me leaving but never received a return call.

    I still get phone calls from people where I was telling me how much they miss me, how the office has just fell apart, how if I need any references or anyone to vouch for me they will be more then happy to do so, etc. Where I worked, you NEED to know everything and how it all works because of who you need to answer to. I truly LOVED my job and what I did and the people I did it for and I miss it with all my heart.

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