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Threatened with job abandonment

Discussion in 'Termination: Firing & Resignation' started by LisaKJohnston, Mar 13, 2014.

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  1. LisaKJohnston

    LisaKJohnston Law Topic Starter Guest

    I got hurt on the job. They only have 90 day workers compensation. The 90 days are up so I had to borrow days and take a leave of absence. I did and I'm still not cleared to work. Now my job is threatening me with job abandonment if I don't submit a six month leave of absence or resign. During the six months it'll be unpaid and I'll have to pay my own insurance (over $500/mo). So now I'm told to either turn in the six month unpaid leave or I'll be fired for job abandonment. Is this legal?
     
  2. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    How often have you actually been absent?

    Are there at least 50 employees within 75 miles?

    Have you worked there for longer than 12 months?

    Have you worked more than 1250 hours in the past 12 months?
     
  3. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    I know where you're going with this, Pro, but since she's already been out for 90 days FMLA has already expired even assuming it applies. They are not required to offer her even the six months leave.

    To answer your question, Lisa, yes, it is legal.
     
  4. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    Ack. I was reading this as she used vacay or something and then went to FMLA.

    Which of course is nonsense. Mea culpa@!
     
  5. LisaKJohnston

    LisaKJohnston Law Topic Starter Guest

    I've been absent since it happened because I can't return to full duty just yet. Need the insurance to continue treatment and therapy but won't have it on leave. I've been there over six years. They have over 1000 employees. I've exhausted FMLA. After then, they made me take a leave of absence since I participate in the sick bank. I got other employees to donate days so I could get paid while out on leave and keep insurance. But, they won't release my check. I guess the only thing I can do is resign to keep them from writing up that I've abandoned my job. Which I haven't - they are making the rules up as they go b/c don't really have an on the job injury process. I stay in touch, doctors notes & recommendations are up to date. It takes them forever to get back with me about the next step.

    I looked up different searches to see if I'd be eligible for other insurance during the six month leave, to continue to seek treatment, which is out of pocket by the way, but I found nothing saying that I could apply/get insurance during that time.

    Also once it's closed by my resignation or termination, I can apply to the state board to be reimbursed for my medical expenses...
     
  6. LisaKJohnston

    LisaKJohnston Law Topic Starter Guest

    Thank you both for your responses. I appreciate it. The leave is for job protection since I'm tenured ( this is a school system) but it seems to be a catch 22. Take off six months without pay, benefits and insurance or resign and try to seek alternative insurance to continue treatment or allow them to fire me bc I can't return and calling it job abandonment. I've never been fired so I don't want that on my record. I couldn't get unemployment anyway since I'm still injured. This sucks but I do appreciate your help!
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I suggest you discuss your situation with a local workers compensation attorney. The initial consult is at no cost, but ask to be sure. I think you'll be pleased at what a WC attorney can possibly do for you. Let us know what transpired. Thank you.
     
  8. KatDini

    KatDini Well-Known Member

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    What did your AEA rep say when you asked them all these questions?
     
  9. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    I would take army judge's advice & talk to a workers comp. attorney. It sure can't hurt. It's "possible" though that he/she might not be able to do anything for you but you will not know unless you ask. Good luck.
     
  10. KatDini

    KatDini Well-Known Member

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    Why would she not approach the Union first? That's what the AEA is, the Teacher's Union in Alabama.
     
  11. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    As far as the LAW is concerned, they can legally term you the first day after your FMLA expires regardless of how valid the need for additional time. They have no legal obligation to continue your insurance past that date, though you will be eligible for COBRA.

    It is not impossible that your union contract provides you with additional rights over and above what the law requires. If so, you would need to discuss that with your union as we would not have any way of knowing what they are.
     
  12. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Agree that they can see what recourse they "might" have through their union first.
     
  13. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Unions don't carry all that much clout in the south.
    My wife has taught school for years in TX.
    She belongs to two unions.
    They don't negotiate, they get a list of things the board will do for them.
    Teacher salary (and benefits, too) are determined by the state legislature in Texas.
    It varies a little by population, but its mainly uniform across the state.
    The same goes for police officer salaries.
    The south and the west, to some extent, (except states along the Pacific Ocean) don't do what the east, north, and midwest states do.
    Public employee unions tend to be more social and less political down here.
    So much so, that the unions rarely litigate anything, or file grievances.
     
  14. KatDini

    KatDini Well-Known Member

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    AEA does in Alabama. They all but ran the legislature in Alabama until recently.
     
  15. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    Very familiar with WC in a public school setting, including with union contracts in place (though not in AL-some things are just standard). 1. If you are off work due to a work injury, you should be getting TTD, which is roughly 2/3rd your average weekly wage, from the WC carrier. It is not paid directly by your employer. It is not uncommon for school systems to pay some portion, your regular wages in lieu of TTD, or supplement the 2/3rds for some period of time. This would be either state regulation or in your union contract.
    2. Once that time is up, TTD is your only option. It is salary replacement only. It is not leave from work. You still need to request leave from work. What leave you are entitled to should be spelled out in your contract. Requesting an unpaid leave is not at all an uncommon option. Your personal insurance may be continued but with you paying the full premium. Not at all uncommon either. Ask your union rep what happens if you are able to return before the 6 months is up. We required employees to request unpaid leave a semester at a time, but if they were able to return sooner, we tried our best to place them. That may be the case here.
    3. You should not be using your own insurance or paying for your own medical care if your claim is accepted. Whether you are employed or not, your WC carrier should be picking up those costs. If you have been paying them and submitting them to your own insurance, it is going to be a pain to sort out but you need to let your adjuster know ASAP.
     
  16. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    From what a teacher earns in AL and Texas, they run nothing.
     
  17. KatDini

    KatDini Well-Known Member

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    Teachers may run nothing but those membership dues to AEA are used/have been used/will be used again to pay for PAC commercials, amongst other things. AEA got mad when the newly voted in Republican Legislature decided to stop taking union dues out of the teachers' checks automagically.
     
  18. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    That's a union issue.
    I still don't see where ANY union runs anything these days.
    They even got screwed on the uAffordable sCare Act.
     
  19. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    Back to the OP's questions... Because you should be getting TTD while on unpaid leave, I would be very surprised if you were eligible for Sick Leave Bank. I have never heard of being able to use it when you are off for a work related injury. That is because you will have income replacement already, via the insurance carrier. I'd be highly surprised if employees were allowed to double dip. If you have not done so, you need to be in contact wit hyour adjuster pronto. Let him or her know when your pay will cease and when you are expecting to return to work. Expect to need the IC to obtain all the medical reports from your treating providrs which justify you being off work. The notes most doctors give that just state the dates off work are not enough. This can take time depending on how responsive your doctor's offices are (hint-usually not very). The IC can not legally pay you without that documentation in place as it would be viewed as insurance fraud (paying benefits without justification). Sometimes, if the patient gets involved and maks the request, they will speed things along.
     

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