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Help! I might lose my job because of BC

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Days after informing HR that I was going to be out for some time to recover from surgery the director of my organization and the HR manager sat down with me and my supervisor to go over a formal reprimand for my excessive use of sick time. The problem is that I have not be able to accrue enough sick time over the past 3 years at this organization. I've been out for maternity leave, and then used a lot of time for depression/anxiety. Since I don't have enough sick/vacation time to cover the entire length of my I requested that our sick leave bank policy be instituted. It was then that HR researched every single time I had requested sick leave, vacation time, and used floating holiday time. The information was compiled on a color coded excell spreadsheet. I was demoted, and lost 3% of my pay. Meanwhile, my supervisor is as indignant as I am. Any advice? In addition to beating BC I now have to worry about losing my insurance, feeding my family, getting new insurance and possibly looking for a job. Does anyone have any ideas on how to deal with this?

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Comments

  • susan_02143
    susan_02143 Member Posts: 2,394
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    Maggie,

    You don't indicate where you are located. Employee protections vary widely depending on what country you live in. How big is the company that you work for, meaning, how many employees do they have? This will affect your legal standing significantly. With a little more information, I am sure that someone here can help you navigate your rights.

    Be sure to start a diary right now, outlining exactly what has occurred. For example, date, time and person you spoke to in HR to ask for a medical leave. Date, time, and people in the room during this review. What day the demotion starts, and the resulting pay cut amount. Documenting while the memories are fresh is important if you need to take any legal action.

    The point of vacation time is to take a vacation. They really used that against you?

    *susan*

  • labelle
    labelle Member Posts: 134
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    Have you asked about FMLA leave? I used up all my sick leave/pay during treatment, then went to paid FMLA. Could have tapped the sick bank only after FMLA was exhausted but I didn't need to.

  • maggierose520
    maggierose520 Member Posts: 5
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    Thanks for replying labelle! In Ohio we don't have paid FMLA. I can use FMLA, but it won't be paid and I'll have to pay for my health insurance out of pocket.

  • maggierose520
    maggierose520 Member Posts: 5
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    Thanks *susan*,


    I'm in Ohio at an organization that has over 100 employees. And yes, they included my floating holiday time and vacation time in the percentage of paid time off that they consider "egregious." HR manager lectured on FMLA and how I should have used it. Why would I use unpaid FMLA when I had paid sick time? My supervisor was aware of all of my absences and the reasons for them and does not believe that my absences negatively affected our department. I work in a public library, so we don't pay into social security, we have PERS, I've been doing research and I don't think I'll qualify for disability benefits or unemployment. The director threatened to fire me if my attendance doesn't improve, but I have cancer and need to go on leave to have the surgery! I am really freaking out, frightened and just pissed that I have to deal with this on top of everything else.

  • susan_02143
    susan_02143 Member Posts: 2,394
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    You work at a public library? Are you union? If yes, call your union rep immediately. If not, I would start at your Mayor's office or town manager and start a "conversation" about this. Letters to the editor if that fails. If you live in this town, call your selectman [or whatever you have as a representative for your district.] I suspect that you will be forced to use FMLA if you don't have enough sick and vacation days in the "bank".... but if there is a tradition of a sick day library and they are not allowing you to access that, you might have some leverage.

    *susan*

    p.s. and this is the time to play the "cancer card" anywhere it will be effective.

  • nancyhb
    nancyhb Member Posts: 235
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    maggierose,

    I have sick time and vacation time, and was instructed by my supervisor and HR department to apply for FMLA to "protect" myself. I was worried it meant I'd have to take the time unpaid, but that's not been the case. In essence I use up my sick and vacation time (fully paid), but then if I need more time I take it under LTD (an insurance policy I have been paying for) or FMLA (unpaid). I can take 12 weeks (or 3 months) every six months. If I need more time at once (like 5 or six months) I need to apply for a medical leave of absence (unpaid). Otherwise, it became clear that I'd run into something similar to what I think you're experiencing.

    I'm still a little foggy on the whole FMLA thing, but it does and has protected me in my medical appointments, chemo and recovery, and will help me during my mastectomy scheduled for later this summer.

    Is it possible for you to apply for FMLA now, knowing that you can continue to use the paid time you have? Perhaps that is the protection you need from here on out?

    Good luck!

  • summerangel
    summerangel Member Posts: 182
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    When I took time off for my surgery I was required by my employer to use FMLA as well as my paid time off. I was told very firmly by our HR person, who loved to tell me that she was an employment lawyer, that I had no choice and that they were only required by law to provide 12 weeks FMLA per calendar year and that it was up to the employer's discretion to make me use it. I actually called my employer's state employment office to verify, and they confirmed it. So in my case it wasn't an either-or situation, and by law an employer can make you take both paid time and FMLA time concurrently (I'm not sure if this is state or federal law, though).

  • specialk
    specialk Member Posts: 9,226
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    My experience was the same as summerangel's. I used 12 weeks of FMLA, and had to first use all available PTO, regardless of whether it was sick time or vacation time. Fortunately I had self-elected and paid for a short term disab policy from my company so after I used my PTO I was paid at 60% of wage for the remainder of the FMLA, and because I had so much surgery and chemo I ran through the 12 week time FMLA period prior to even starting chemo my company then switched me to company paid long term disab and gave me an ADA accommodation. This was done (and it is at company discretion - if it will cost them they can say no to this) because they had closed another hospital's blood bank, and all those employees had no place to go because the new blood bank was not open yet - so they funneled them all through my job until I could come back - it worked out very well for me. The purpose of FMLA is job protection specifically, not salary or paycheck protection. It guarantees that they will hold your job, or a similar job, while you are absent but does not provide payment while you are gone. If you just use sick time without invoking FMLA you do not have the same job protections, which is I think what you are experiencing now.

  • Sunny_Girl
    Sunny_Girl Member Posts: 38
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    Hi all -

    FMLA protects your job & it doesn't have to do with pay (they are separate issues).

    I believe that you can have more than one FMLA issue going on & im not sure if it's a rolling year or calendar year (don't know who makes that decision - Federal or State).

    Party

  • specialk
    specialk Member Posts: 9,226
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    FMLA is usually per 12 month period. You also have to have worked for your employer for at least twelve months, and have worked 1250 hours in that time period, and the employer must employ a minimum number of employees, which I believe is more than 50.

  • Fotheringay
    Fotheringay Member Posts: 50
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    Hi all,

    Maybe I'm just whining, but I'd like to get this off my chest.

    I'm having 23 radiation treatments starting 1/30, and plan to try to to work the whole time. Other than tamoxifen, that's the end of my BC treatment for now.

    My employer is already annoyed at the time I've had to miss because of appointments and surgery, even though I don't take personal time (which I have 40 hrs to use) and work crazy hours on the days I don't have appointments so I get all my work done (40+ hours). It makes me REALLY tired. I don't know what's going to happen when the radiation fatigue kicks in.

    Thankfully, the hospital system I am getting my care through has a full-time person who deals with this kind of issue. She sent them a note stating I needed an accommodation for my treatment, but I know they are itching to "lay me off" because it's an "unreasonable burden" to accommodate my need for time away for occasional appointments and a later start time (maybe one hour!) because of my morning rads. They fire people at the drop of the hat; they just fired someone who had been there for twenty years. No one saw that coming. It's alarming.

    I don't yet qualify for FMLA, as I've only been there ten months. It just annoys the hell out of me that I work 11.5 hr days sometimes to get all my work done to make up for an appointment with the oncologist and the like, yet my employer just seems annoyed that I'm not planted at my desk from 7:30 to 4:30 every day. I have been open about having BC, so I can't see where it would look like I was setting a bad example by flaunting attendance rules if I arrive at work at 11 am after an appointment, or have to leave at 3:30 another time.

    It adds to my already heightened stress level to have this kind of paranoia hanging over my head. I did buy short-term disability insurance, but the idea of getting canned and losing my medical insurance freaks me out. The ACA is NOT affordable for me.

    Maybe I just need a "you poor baby!" from someone... the worry is awful.

    Carrie

  • Freya
    Freya Member Posts: 329
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    You are not whining, and definitely not a poor baby, you have a shit employer. I dont know how your system works, I am not American. If I was in your situation I would be keeping a diary of everything that is said and done to start with. You are being reasonable, they are not.

    I hope it works out for you, best wishes.

  • Fotheringay
    Fotheringay Member Posts: 50
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    Thanks for the kind words, Freya...

    A lot of people think that as soon as you have your surgery, you are all better, "cured".

    BC is hard enough without the specter or being canned from your job hanging over your head!

    I intend to find another position as soon as I am through the radiation and the weeks of fatigue that follow. I owe them NOTHING.

    Carrie

  • Lafish
    Lafish Member Posts: 32
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    Hi, I totally agree with Freya, I'm also not American but cancer is considered a critical illness and needs to be accommodated with employers. I was fortunate and was eligible for long term disability insurance. I was off work for 1 year and did not miss a paycheque. Seems so unfair for you to have all of this added stress. So sorry you are dealing with this Fotheringay.

    LAF

  • gardengypsy
    gardengypsy Member Posts: 499
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    These posts are getting my blood boiling.

    Look. The way I see it is that companies do not want to be seen as mean to women with Breast Cancer! There is just too much potential for real bad publicity. I'd threaten to go straight to the damn newspaper...


  • gardengypsy
    gardengypsy Member Posts: 499
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    I find this totally connected to the "pink washing" of this disease...

  • chisandy
    chisandy Member Posts: 11,317
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    Could this be an ADA violation, Fotheringay? You might have a cause of action there.

  • Beatmon
    Beatmon Member Posts: 617
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    Surely it is a violation. Are you able to talk to HR without fear of escalation? Who acts like this.....terribl

  • lisey
    lisey Member Posts: 300
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    If you used up your sick time due to anxiety and all that.. then it's really unfair for you to expect them to continue to pay for your wage when you haven't earned all the sick time. My husband is VERY CAREFUL about not using sick days at all if he can help it and rather uses personal time off that he then makes up. It's a way to save sick days for a true emergency.. and yes, there is FMLA, and they don't need to pay for it.

    Bottom line is if you used up your time, then you made your choice. Take the FMLA unpaid and see where you land.

    Personal choices people... personal accountability.

    BTW, paid sick leave is not something required by law, but a perk. http://topics.hrhero.com/sick-leave-use-by-employe...

    ----- In the United States, most employers aren't required to provide workers with paid sick leave. Employers for about half of all American workers do provide some form of sick leave. Traditionally, employers give employees separate Leave for illnesses and injuries.

    Some employers allow employees to use sick leave to care for their sick children while others don't. Some employers lump together vacation, personal days, and sick leave into what is called paid time off which gives employees a certain amount of leave time to use for any reason. In addition to sick leave, some employers offer disability leave to employees who miss weeks or months of work for medical reasons.

    Generally, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) an employer may not make deductions from an exempt employee's pay based on absences. There are a few exceptions to that rule, the most significant of which is that a deduction may be made if (1) an employee misses a full day of work because of sickness or injury, (2) the employer has in place a "bona fide sick pay plan," and (3) the employee isn't entitled to paid leave for the absence either because he hasn't yet qualified for the leave or because he has used all his accrued leave.

    OP used up all her paid leave. She needs to understand she has no right to more, but FMLA - unpaid, can protect her job for up to 26 weeks. It's wrong to expect business owners to just keep paying out of pocket for workers when they've used up their benefits. As a business owner, I'd go out of business if employees could demand that.

  • shayranee
    shayranee Member Posts: 1
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    REALLY LISEY! You have obviously not ever been in "our" position. Even though you are a very cruel and heartless woman, I pray you never have to go what we are going through or have gone through, or by all means your husband doesn't get prostrate cancer. When you are told you have breast cancer it is one of the scariest feelings. It becomes all you can think about and worry about. Your sleeping habits go to hell, and so does your "normal" life! You get on here and have the edacity to play the poor employer card is ridiculous. Find somewhere else to lay your hate! Here, it is about support, friendship, and encouragement through a very rough time in our lives.

  • maggierose520
    maggierose520 Member Posts: 5
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    Hugs. @Fotheringay You'll get through this. Just keep your head down and do you best. If they fire you then you can move on. Concentrate on you and healing.

  • maggierose520
    maggierose520 Member Posts: 5
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    @Lisey. I do not think Fotheringay or myself were expecting our employers "to just keep paying out of pocket for workers when they've used up their benefits." Neither of us mention the "unfair" expectation for " them to continue to pay for your wage when you haven't earned all the sick time." Fotheringay and I are, or were, each of us feeling the pressurse of being an employee, struggling to perform our work, provide for ourselves and our families, and beat the snot out of BC. I see by your signature that you also have fought a good fight. From your attitude however I can deduce that you have been a business owner for so long that you no longer feel insecure about your wealth, your home, your bills, your groceries and the like. Congratulations, you are obviously in a better financial situation that the rest of us fighting BC. Thanks for your insights into the world of how cold, uncaring, and "money first, people second" bosses like ours and you are.

  • lisey
    lisey Member Posts: 300
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    At least you noticed I too have had BC MaggieRose. Shayranee couldn't even read my Dx line. That stated, I was working the day after my BMX... I don't take time off and have no luxury of sick leave because I work for myself. I have no one to bitch to or complain about to reduce my workload. Either I suck it up, or I don't get paid... and honestly, a lot of our ability to handle situations is mental - so my jumping right back in was easy. I just decided to suck it up - even with TEs that were rejected and 3 surgeries in 1.5 months... yup still working and certainly not looking for a handout. - and this isn't even my first cancer... I had Melanoma as well. No pity party for me. And you have no idea about my financial situation.

    My post was mainly to the women thinking this was some legal issue.. that business are required to provide paid time off for sickness. They simply aren't educated about what is a benefit vs. what is a federal law. Be grateful you got paid time off for your 'anxiety'. Entitlement is a huge issue lately.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,834
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    I don't think Lisey was trying to be unkind, but rather, explain the legal parameters and/or obligations. I think we sometimes believe that employers are legally obligated to provide accommodations for illness that they are actually not. That being said, some employers are able to, and do, go the extra mile to accommodate an employees illness. Other employees work under contracts which clearly define how time off, for illness, personal leave etc. is handled and it's limitations.

    I am a unionized employee and my sick days, disability, accommodations are clearly spelled out. In the early days of my tx, I made sure to clearly understand this. Once I was medically cleared to return to work without restrictions, I understood that if I became unable to fulfill my job responsibilities, I could, with board approval, apply for an unpaid leave of absence, if I had burned through all other time off.Fortunately, I didn't need to do that but, I have rarely taken a sick day in 5+ years because our sick days are banked and at stage IV, I know I will need them one day.

    Whether it is fair or not, employers vary greatly in what they are legally obligated to provide employees in times of illness. Know what your company provides so you are prepared for when you need it and are not caught off guard. The law and compassion are two different things. I wish that weren't so, but from a pragmatic point of view, we have to deal with it

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
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    For 35 years I worked as an engineer at a large aerospace company. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer I found myself pushed forcibly into early retirement.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,834
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    Yes, sadly, employers vary wildly when it comes to these things. I am fortunate in that, once I was medically cleared, I went back to work with no problem, but, I currently need no accommodations, even at stage IV

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
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    I probably should add many others without cancer were also forced into early retirement. Greed at the corporate level, it has already started to bite them in the backside.

  • lisey
    lisey Member Posts: 300
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    Meow, I love women engineers! Things have changed for sure. There used to be pensions in the aerospace industry (my husband works in that industry too).. those are all gone. As I mentioned previously, my husband has NO paid sick days. If he gets sick, he has to make it up. He tried to get paid for the 2 days he stayed home to take me to the hospital for my BMX and they denied it. He ended up making up the time. The honest truth is we are grateful he has a job... and we're grateful we aren't struggling in Afghanistan or Darfur. Our lives are so cushy compared to most of the world. I'm grateful for living in a 1st world economy.

    ExBmxGrl... Your attitude is what we need more of. You are saving for a rainy day and stocking away your sick days. Good on you thinking ahead.

    My post was mainly for the women 'demanding justice!' and saying to go legal. All a fool's errand.



  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
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    I just felt kicked when I was down. Now, even though I still have an expensive college student son to support I am glad to be out of there.