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Terminated first day back from medical leave

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What is the name of your state? Alabama

I worked for a Jewelry store, and the store was robbed at gunpoint. During the robbery I was slammed into one of the glass showcases. I had several cuts, scrapes, bruises and suffered 2 herniated discs as a result.

The regional supervisor refused to allow me to go to the hospital to be checked out until she got there. I had to wait nearly 2 hours for her. She claimed that even though the police were there that the insurance would not cover the loss unless an employee was there at all times.

The doctor put me on a 6 weeks medical leave of absence. A week before I was due to return back to work, the regional supervisor called and asked me if I was going to return back to work as per the medical leave. I told her yes. She informed me that I would need to obtain a medical release from my doctor and bring it in at least the day before I was to return to work.

I obtained the release from my doctor and carried it into the manager that was on duty at the time, she took it and said that she would fax it to the regional supervisor and that she would see me at noon on Thursday (today).

I had already worked 6 hours of my 8 hour shift and the manager comes walking back in the store with some papers she needed me to sign.

The first set of papers was where I was supposed to agree not to hold the company liable for my medical expenses due to the robbery. The second set was where I agreed not to bring any legal action against the company as a result of the robbery. The third set consisted of 3 write ups, 1 for allowing the armed robber behind the counter, 2 for opening the cash drawer for the armed robber and 3 for leaving the premises before the police completed the onsite investigation. The fourth set was where I agreed to appear in court on behalf of the jewelry store at the hearing of the robber. The fifth and final set was my termination papers effective immediately and to turn in my keys.

I knew if I refused to sign, but turned in my key they would claim I quit. So I refused to turn in my key and refused to sign any of the papers and demanded the manager call the regional supervisor.

The regional supervisor said if I did not sign all of the papers and turn in the keys that they would seek legal action against me.

Can they do this legally?


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I don't understand why they are terminating you. If you hadn't unlocked the case for the robber, you'd likely be dead now.

And, in my opinion, they SHOULD be responsible for your medical expenses. You got injured while at work, while protecting the facility.

I'm not a lawyer, but it doesn't appear to me that you've done anything that should warrant termination.


I'm a Northern Girl
Whether she has done anything to warrant termination is, frankly, irrelevant. Alabama is an at-will state. You can be terminated for any reason not prohibited by law.

I don't see anything in the post saying that her medical expenses are not being covered under workers comp; simply that a medical release was required before she was allowed to return to work. This is not only legal, it's common.

I have to agree that it's totally unfair. But unless I'm missing something (which is possible; it's only 7:00 a.m. my time and I was up till nearly 2:00 last night) I don't see anything illegal about the termination.



I know Alabama's an at-will state, just like my home turf of Georgia.

It just seems wrong that she survives a robbery and then is fired.

That's all.


Senior Member
Unless brenrene seriously violated the store's policy on how to handle a robbery, then I agree there is no ethical basis to discharge her. But that's still not illegal.

Interestingly, it appears they are firing her for not resisting. There have been several similar cases publicized in the media where employees were terminated FOR resisting, where company policy dictated that ee's do nothing to risk personal injury and turn over the cash or whatever to the thief. This employer appears to have just the opposite expectation, which is nuts in my opinion.

First off, the employer cannot waive liability for her injuries, whether she signed that document or not. She was hurt in the course of her employment. The employer is liable under Alabama's W.C. regulations. Brenrene, if the employer refuses to file an injury report with their carrier and/or your medical bills and lost time aren't paid, contact your State's Worker's Comp Division.

Secondly, I don't remotely see any cause of action that the employer can pursue against you, whether you sign any papers or not. The manager's statement that they would seek legal action against you is absurd.

And while the people you were working for appear to be such a bunch of jerks that I'd love to tell you that you have the basis for some complaint or suit, I don't see one. They did not discharge you for an illegal reason; just a stupid and ill-advised one. Naturally, you are completely free to tell all your friends, acquaintances, and family members about the circumstances of your separation (as long as you're truthful) and they can draw their own conclusions about whether they want to patronize that store.


Thanks, I pretty much figured I didn't have a leg to stand on.

And yes you are correct about the handling of the robbery. We are instructed to tell robbers that we do not have the keys to showcase after the manager leaves at 5 pm. Which is stupid to begin with because any idiot knows if you're going to sell the merchandise inside of it, you have to have the keys to unlock the case.

I used my key to open the cash register instead of pressing the no-sale key and entering my employee ID# and password. The robber was yelling at me to hurry up or he would kill me and there are 4 seperate screens you have to go through to do a no-sale, so I used the key instead. And yes I did go against company policy for allowing a non-employee behind the counter. Of course policy states that any employee that permits a non-employee behind an employees only area will be subject to immediate termination. But I did have a gun to my head and I did as the robber told me to do NOT the company.

The silent alarm was located a few inches off of the floor underneath the showcase counter, when the robber first came inside the store, I was on the opposite side of the counter cleaning the glass. It was while he was taking money out of the register that I tried to get to the alarm and he pushed me into the case.

I'm still receiving medical treatment under workman's comp, but the company wants to sign a paper so they can drop the responsibility because of the termination. The company policy is 3 write ups in a 6 month period results in automatic termination. I worked for this company for 7 years without receiving a verbal warning and was given all 3 write ups from one night.

So it was a choice either go against company policy and do as the robber wanted and live or go against the robber and be shot. Somehow when you have a gun beside your head that has already been fired into the ceiling you couldn't care about what the policy is.

What I still don't understand is why I wasn't fired that night, why did they wait until I had already been back at work 6 hours to do this.

Under company policy they are supposed to pay current employees that go to court regarding theft etc. However I still haven't been paid from when I attended the preliminary hearing and was told that since I was on a leave of absence I wasn't eligible.

None of it makes any sense to me other than the company I worked for appears to be a bigger crook than the robber was.
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Senior Member
Don't sign the paper. It's actually irrelevant; like I said, an employer CANNOT waive worker's comp liability so even though you no longer work there, your medical expenses from the robbery still have to be covered. Given how they've operated, I'm just advising you not to sign the paper just 'cause there's absolutely no need for you to go along with anything they ask you to do at this point. (Plus, it'll frustrate them and I expect you won't mind being in the driver's seat on at least something.)

I expect they waited to fire you until you returned from leave in order to make sure the lost time portion of your worker's comp claim was closed.

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