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Thread: Job protection/ADA&EEOC. Help!

  1. #1

    Job protection/ADA&EEOC. Help!

    I work in management for a fortune 500 company. I was paralyzed in Aug of 2011. I took a leave from work because of this for 6 months. I used FMLA and my work provided short term disability. FMLA for 12 weeks and the short term disability took care of the remaining time. I returned to work after the 6 months in the same position in management and did not miss a beat. Everything was still the same. I had to go out of work again in June of 2012 due to a pressure sore. It was a stage IV sore and took 6 months to heal where I could return to work. I was very diligent in providing doctors notes, pics, etc to my manager and constantly stayed in contact with him. When I was ready to return to work I sent my return to work notice to my manager as well as HR. When I get to work they tell me you are no longer the manager and gave me a different position of basically answering the phones. Approx 25k less money and no where near the same job level. I know FMLA only 'protects' your job for 12 weeks, but does the ADA or EEOC protect my original job in the company? I was told the reason for the demotion was for time spent on medical leave. Do I have a leg to stand on here? (no pun intended). From what I understand the ADA protects my current position or a position similar until my return.

    Any insight would be helpful.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  2. #2
    Good luck getting a straight answer out of anyone. I don't think you have a leg to stand on. The company comes first and they have no obligation to keep you whole beyond the FMLA period (IMO). I would still speak with an EEOC/ADA attorney though.

    Please don't take the following comments personally.

    While you may have gotten the job done when you returned to work (kudos for returning so soon and doing a good job) it may have been at the expense of your skin care. If you want to successfully hold down any job you'll need to keep your SCI stuff at bay so you can get to work everyday and do the job. Finding that balance, between managing your job, your life and SCI is crucial. From my experience, you can only live far out of balance for 6-12 months or so before everything starts to breakdown.

    Good luck and don't give up because of this setback.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Susqu's Avatar
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    The first place to start is what the ADA says, http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/ada.cfm

    The EEOC has a Q&A page here http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/adaqa1.html

    You need to see if they could make an 'accomodation' for the time missed since it was disability related. I don't believe they can seriously downgrade you for reasons connected to your disability.

    Find out if there is a written job description for your management position. i know there was a section in there about one of the 'accomodations' for an employee who becomes disabled and cannot perform the 'essential duties' of his/her position is to be reassigned to a job on similar level as the position currently held.

    If there is a legal aid services in your area, that's who i would go to and get them to explain just what the law says and what your options are. Often resolution is a simple matter of getting well informed and explaining to your HR just what kind of options are available to both of you so that you can remain a 'loyal and productive' employee in the company. We all like win/win situations.

  4. #4
    I could be completely wrong, but my understanding has always been that once your fmla is up they owe you nothing when it comes to a job. Doesn't matter if it was related to a disability or not. A company can't hold your position forever, especially when it's one at your level.

    I hope this turns out in your favor and please keep us updated.

  5. #5
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    You can always ask for a reasonable accommodation for the time off based on your disability.

    But how reasonable is it to expect an employer to hold a management position for someone for six months?

    If your position was key to the operation of the company (which most management positions are)? Someone had to step in while you were away and they paid them?

    It is heartless to think this way but sometimes a reasonable accommodation ends up costing and I think they can probably justify that they just could not meet this one.

    I worked in management too and had to step down after a couple of months on leave. I had 10 or so employees under me that had to have direction as well as the running of a department.

    I feel your pain.

    Also managing is stressful...have you looked at other kinds of jobs etc? I know you like that management pay but there comes a time when you sometimes have to choose it or your health. I look at managing people like teaching a kindergarten class....their problems become your problems and your shoulders sometimes spread wider than you can carry. Managing health with an SCI is also stressful. I hope you find a happy medium. Lots of people here have.

    Take care of your health like Patton said, you can only keep it up about six months before the bottom drops out and little things become life threatening. Been there and done that...good luck.
    T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

    My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

  6. #6
    Did you have any type of long-term disability coverage in your benefits?

  7. #7
    Mark G, I did not elect to purchase long term disability with my company before I was hurt. I was one of the most health conscious people you would have met and I thought I will not need that, at least not at the age of 28. I was struct with transverse myelitis and now of course I have been denied long term disability through the company. Probably the biggest mistake of my life. I appreciate all the feedback and I have not made a decision about how or if I will pursue any action against the company I work for.

    Thanks again,

    Mike

  8. #8
    I'm with darkeyed daisy. You can't expect to stay employed as a manager if you are not able to be there to manage people. Sounds like you were treated pretty well. Businesses (unlike the gov't) need their employees to be productive. If not, they will go broke. I wish you luck. Your health should be your number one concern. As for your boss, he needs to think about the bottom line. Good luck.

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