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wrongfully terminated and now being billed for overpayment

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? MA

In February of this year I became ill and was admitted into the hospital. I learned I had a heard condition and on March 1 I had heart surgery performed on me. I returned to work on March 13 but collapsed at work on March 15 and was taken to the ER by ambulance. On March 27 I returned to work again. Although I missed a substantial amount of work, I had kept my manager up to date and every day I missed had been excused by a doctor and my manager was notified. On April 4 and 5 I wasn't feeling well and wasn't able to go to work, and I had scheduled April 6 and 7 off for doctors visits. However, on April 6 my employer sent out a letter via Fedex saying I hadn't shown up for work and they considered me to have "voluntarily resigned". Because I did not get along with my manager and she often had issues with my medical absences, I knew that I was being fired. I did not try to keep my job because the job was a high-stress job and my poor relationship with my manager was causing me more stress, and my doctor told me to avoid stress due to my heart condition. When I applied for unemployment, I was told I did not qualify because my employer said I voluntarily resigned. Now, I have received a letter from my employer saying they overpaid me and requesting that I repay them. While I did receive one paycheck after they fired me, it was not nearly the amount they say I was overpaid.

My question is whether I have any legal rights regarding my termination. My understanding is that the Family and Medical Leave Act required my employer to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, which they did not do. They fired me for taking medical leave and are claiming that I did not notify them. While I have been resisting the urge to take legal action against my employer due to my health, I am angered that they are now asking me to repay them when I feel I was wrongfully terminated.

Thank you,


I'm a Northern Girl
Let's start with whether or not you actually were wrongfully terminated. A great many people (and that's a conservative estimate) who think they were wrongfully terminated were not; they may have been unfairly terminated, but that's not illegal.

However, in this case it's going to be pretty black and white whether FMLA applies. If it does not, you were not wrongfully terminated. If it does, we'll continue further.

The Family and Medical Leave Act applies when ALL of the following are true; if even one is not, FMLA is not applicable.

1.) Your employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles of your work location
2.) You have worked for that employer no less than 12 months
3.) In the 12 months immediately preceding the start of your leave, you worked no less than 1,250 hours
4.) You or a qualified dependent has a serious health condition as defined under the statute.

From what you say, I think we can assume that #4 is true. Are #s 1, 2, and 3 all true?


Junior Member
all of these are true. I have worked full time for this company for almost two years, and this is a large company (176,000 employees) with thousands in the Boston area which is where I worked. However, I did transfer into a new job in a different department within the company only a couple months before, I don't know if that would matter. I don't know what the qualifications for a serious health condition are, however as I stated I was recovering from heart surgery, I was rushed to the emergency room from work shortly after I returned to work, and my doctor instructed me to avoid stressful situations until I was recovered. My problem is that my manager who I never got along with says I did not call in the days I stayed home sick and that I never scheduled the days off for my doctor visits, so she considers me to have "voluntarily resigned". I have no proof that I called in sick or that my days off were scheduled, as this was all done verbally. I believe that my manager is saying this as an excuse for firing me so she could hire a replacement, as I worked on a small team with a heavy workload, and my absences were an inconvenience for my manager and co-workers. Perhaps I should have done something sooner, however it wasn't worth risking my health due to the stress of taking any legal action. I still do not want to take legal action, as I know lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming and there are no guarantees. I would let this whole thing drop, however now they are actually billing me, saying that I was overpaid. I find this outrageous that after all they have done to me they are sending me a bill, and I don't have the money to pay them back anyways, as they also denied my unemployment claim and I still have unpaid medical bills to pay. I do not think they will let the issue of my overpay drop, so I am afraid I have no other alternative other than pay them (which I can't do) or take legal action for my termination.


I'm a Northern Girl
A little clarification. Your employer did not deny your unemployment claim. The state of MA did that. Your employer does not have the right or ability to either approve or deny benefits. They can contest, just as you can appeal a ruling. ONLY the state can make the final decision.

Okay. How much time, TOTAL, did you miss in the 12 months immediately before your termination?

And, even if the amount is incorrect, WERE you overpaid? Because if you were, you do have to repay it. (Sorry.)


Junior Member
I realize it is the state that denied my unemployment, however the reason the state provided for the denial was that my employer said I failed to show up for work and voluntarily resigned, which is not true. When I called in sick and took previously-scheduled days off, my manager falsely claimed she was never notified, so that she could fire me and hire a replacement because she knew I was going to require additional days off to recover, which is why I said my employer denied my unemployment. If my manager had not lied about my termination, the state would not have been denied my unemployment.

I do not know the exact time I was out of work in the 12 months prior to my termination, as I no longer have access to my attendance records. However, I missed 25 days of work due to my heart condition prior to my termination, which was taken from my sick and vacation days. My employer provides 10 sick days and 15 vacation days per year. They first used my sick days, and then my vacation days, and on the 25th day, once I used up my sick and vacation days, I was fired. Other than this, I did not miss any work in 2006 and the only days I missed in 2005 were my vacation days and a few sick days.

I am not arguing that I shouldn’t have to repay whatever amount I was overpaid, however my problem is that they are requesting I repay them over $1700, when I was overpaid by less than $1000, with no explanation of where they get this figure, so now I fear I will have to argue with them about the amount I owe. (You might think a large company is unlikely to make errors in payroll, however they have messed up my paycheck before and it took several phone calls for them to admit they made a mistake.) I have felt all along that my employer treated me unfairly and denied me my rights under FMLA to take time off to recover, however I had not taken any action to defend myself due to my health condition. However, now that I am going to have to argue with them about their overpayment claim anyways, I am more inclined to take legal action regarding my termination (if I am entitled too).


I'm a Northern Girl
While it is legal to apply vacation and sick days to FMLA, you still need to receive a total of 12 weeks before you can be terminated for any reason related to the absence. You are entitled to file a claim of FMLA violation with the US DOL.

You are also entitled to an accounting of how they arrived at the figure for the overpayment. However, the fact that you appear to have a valid claim for wrongful termination does not excuse you from repaying whatever amount actually was overpaid.


Senior Member
Did you try to appeal the denial of unemployment? Even if YOU have no proof that you called out, they probably have no proof that you didn't. Hopefully it's not too late to file the appeal now.

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