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Opinions and what to do ???

MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Almost 1/5 years ago they revised my three level with a four level - ACDF - vertebrectomy - cage and posterior rods. About 6 weeks after returning to work I was laid off - fired - termed - what ever -

Filed for SSD(still pending judge review - determination) ... collected underemployment for a couple of months - till somehow I got a new job mid february of this year. My new job is EXTREMELY stressfull and had caused my physical (and mental conditions) to worsen GREATLY. Saw my doc last night who said I should take a sick week off and gave me a note for such.

Today I talked with my direct report as I had the beginning of the week and again explained to her that my workload was causing exasperation of my conditions and I needed a break.
I also told her that to continue to work I needed reasonable accomodations (such as reduction in my workload)
and that there are laws that support this type of activity for people with disabilites.

We agreed on three "sick days" with me to return next Wednesday. I have no idea what to expect. Will they attempt to keep me on and lessen my load (my clients love me and I have mad skills in my field) - will they fire me for trumped up charges and try to dispute my unemployment - will I need yet another attny to assist in a suit against them for violation of the American with Disabilities Act?

I just never know whats next ... suggestions- please??

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  • I don't know what they will do for you. Your situation is difficult.

    Keep us informed.

  • at the time of hiring? Is the workload accurate to what you understood at the time you were hired? Coming from an employer's perspective, this may be a deciding factor. I have had to let people go from my business because they were unable to fullfill what the job required. I have been able to make accomadations for those who were worth the trouble.

    But when there are job requirements, and an employee cannot fullfill them, it can be cause for termination.

    If they like you they may wish to accomadate you but they may need to review their options.

    There is nothing wrong with planning, but today is Thurs. don't go to far forward into Wed.

    I am not trying to upset you - only you know how your request was received and so on. Perhaps, you can be creative yourself and figure out a way that you would be productive for the business but be able to accomadate your own physical needs with the days you have off. Be proactive for yourself, as an employer I would be willing to listen to my employee if their idea was indeed workable.

  • Hi D,

    I have a few questions to ask, in an attempt to ease your mind. You shouldn't have to be worrying about your job security, while you are taking these sick days to unwind and take a well-needed breather.

    Are you considered a full-time employee or part-time employee? I am assuming you are a full-time employee, as you mentioned having three sick days available to take.

    Have you ever been given a written or verbal reprimand since being employed here? How has your work performance been?

    How much sick time have you used to date and how much sick time do you have remaining for the year? Also, do you have any unused vacation time?

    When you spoke with your direct report at the beginning of the week, what did she say to you in regards to reducing your workload? For example, was she willing to help reduce your workload, etc. Do you have an option of working from home?

    How did the two of you come into agreement of taking three sick days versus five sick days... and what does your doctor's note say?

    Try not to stress too much over this. Concentrate on taking care of you and your health over the next five days.

  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    I understood that this was a demanding position - but it is very obvious that my workload is much greater than others in the same, and with high visibility clients.

    I have suggested resonable accomodations as provided by the ADA - My Director was not even familiar with the term. My suggestions were completely dismissed.

    I was provided today a written warning for a infraction that occurred two weeks ago. My clients apreciate my abilites and newer clients seek me out.

    The doctors note said I should take all of next week off, I didn't want to be away from the clients and projects for that long and yes I have a number of sick days and vacation days "banked".

    I agree that I should use these days to decompress and relax ... This job has been both a blessing and a curse - But I can't let a job lead me to the edge ... and it has ... The stress (not just felt by me but by many other staff) has exasperated my condition .... Hmmm maybe its a workers comp case??

    I have worked full time since I was 16 ... I am not a malinger. I love what I do and am respected by my peers ... This company is sick in a very different way than me.

    Lord help us all and again - Thank you!

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  • Keep in mind the key thing with the ADA is that it is considered reasonable accommodations. So that word is just huge. This is in fact the explanation I received from a employment attorney regarding the subject. For example if you were a postal worker and it the practice was to stand at the counter to help customers, but you in fact needed to sit. That would be considered reasonable under the law. Now take the job I had which involved lots of windshield time and I couldn't do it. However I was going to pay for a driver to drive for me. Well that is not reasonable cause they in fact would be insured by my employer and thus fall under the work comp. So the biggest part of that law ask what is reasonable. Now if you had a agreement on employment or a contract you may have some other recourse. Not sure what state you are in rather it be a "right to work state", "employment at will state". But you need to indeed figure out if what you are asking is reasonable. if you are serving say 30 clients and bringing to the table a higher percentage return on the dollar than other employees in your field, then it could be reasonable to cut your client load. Now if the company works on a system where your expected to bring more clients in, it may not be reasonable. Remember the other thing if a discrimination is being filled the statue of limitations starts running at the time the discrimination took place. So if you made a request like this now and 6 months from now you were released, the statue would have elasped.

    I do hope all works out for you Dave. I know you were excited when this job came along so I wish you luck on whichever way you go. Keep us posted.
  • Just a few questions that might be relavant. What state are you in? As Tammy said different states have laws that might help or hurt. Also do you have a job description? And how many people are in this company nationwide and your location? IN eight months you probably have enough hours for FMLA which is federal if there are enough employees. Most states have short term disability which protects your job. Does the company have an HR department? If so go to them now that your direct boss is aware of the situation. HR is often forgotten about by the employee and the managers usually screw things up by getting in the middle.

    No job is worth compromising your health. I know this doesnt make you feel better but this should help your SSA disability claim. If your doc says you can't do this job it shows your limitation. And if they fire you then it really shows a problem.

    Let us know some of these answers and maybe someone can make some suggestions.
  • I do my best thinking in the shower -- if I'm lucky I still remember it when I am dressed!! lol

    Seriously, most if not all states require the employer to have short term disability. I know in my company the insurance company requires that if you are out of work for more than 3 days that you have to have a note from doc to RETURN to work. Even if you don't claim the disability this rule applies.

    Many smaller companies don't even know that this is required. I would try to find out what company carries your short term disability insurance. You can contact them directly. Tell them you have a doctors not requiring a week out of work. You should also file for this SDI even though it is not long enough to collect.
  • Do you have an employee ethics hotline number through your employer? You can call this number and remain anonymous, if you feel uncomfortable revealing your name.

    Another option would be to call your HR department. One of the many things the HR department does, is review the company handbook guidelines and policies with employees... when they have questions of this nature. They will pull up your available PTO balance, personnel record and answer any questions you may have including your benefit information.

    Good luck and please, take care over there. Use your time off to regroup and relax.

    Tammy :)
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Its a smallish company, with no real HR department or employee hotline. They do have STD but it pays like $150 a week.

    Resonable accomadation to me would be to reduce my workload form the 8 projects that I have (3 being high profile - demand - production needs) to those two or three. Resonable accomodation would be to let me work from home a couple days a week to spare me the 22 miles drive each way everyday as driving on medication is never a good idea.

    At this point my health (mental and physical) is more important than this job and I hope they term me and don't fight my underemployment. If they fight my unemployment - I may resort to filing suit that my discharge was based on discrimination of an American with disabilites.

    As often - stuck between a rock and many hard places.

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  • I wish you the best of luck...the best piece of advise is to go into the discussion not putting them on the defense or being accusatory and demanding - if that makes sense. The old saying "get more with honey vs vinegar"...

    And a concrete plan...like Tues and Wed could be work from home days because, I usually just need to return calls, no client meetings etc. for an example. One of the things that will drive me crazy as an owner and boss is someone coming to me with a problem, but with absolutely no suggestions for solution....it is like here you go another problem, good luck with that, get back to us.

    Just my perspective....I hope that the rest helps you, and yes, you need to do what is best for your health .... keep us updated.

  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    My boss has already made it fairly clear that they will not provide any accomodations - that I knew the demands of the position when I accepted it. And that they are not in a position to cater to my needs ... like I had mentioned ... they are "sick" in a different way than little old me.

    Oh boy ... at least I again ... feel the winds of change ... change is good.

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  • I work for a fairly large corporation and recently went on STD for my neck condition. They took over 2 1/2 months before they would pay my claim and I had a functional capacity test and then they denied it. They said that I told the tester that I couldn't work. They also said a PT sent in a work restriction of 50 lbs. I do a desk job, so I don't lift weights. I think that they just don't want to pay out claims.

    I even called the hospital that did the test, and they said the determination was done from the physical tests. So now I am not sure what to do.

    I had read many awful things about the Hartford Insurance company online at consumeraffairs.com. They are bilking a lot of people of their claims. So now I am going to have to get an atty for STD and many of them are specialized in SSA disabilty and not with private insurance. I wonder if anyone else has this issue?

    I've never heard of companies not paying out legitimate STD claims. So you really can't even depend on that anymore.

  • Metal I would take the week on doctor's orders. If they fire you then you should have a case for unemployment. Just make sure that your time off was a short term rest and not a permanent disability. If you can't work you can't get unemployment.

    I think I know the type of company you are working for. I've been in a few of those and I don't envy you. One of the reasons I stay where I am is I know it could be much much worse!

    You seem to be resolved to losing this job. THat puts you in a position of strength. When your mind is set that they need you more than you need them you can bargain from a position of strength. I can't tell you how many times my husband went in yelling at his boss, quit and then got a promotion!!

    You talk about reducing your work load. Your employer is looking at an increased cost to cover what you won't be doing. Have you considered a pay cut along with the reduced work load? Would that be better than short term disability or unemployment?

    Another thought is do you have an attorney for your SSD claim? If you do you should be running all of this by them because your actions might affect that case.

    If I were you I would take the whole week off so they see how much you do. Call in once or twice to show you care and make sure they have the doctors note saying you need a week off. Then tell them you need to have a meeting either Oct 30 or Nov 2 with the owners of the company. Don't threaten anyone but lay out the options. Baffled is right that you need to have a plan and having a plan will put you in control. These days alot of people are doing job sharing. It would let you have the time off you need and give your employer coverage in case you are out.

    You also could speak to your doctor. See how much he will support you. See if he is willing to write a note to your employer detailing your limitations and how the job is affecting your health.

    Ultimately if your employer is a nutcase nothing will help. But you can know that you did your best to try to keep the job.

    And of course you should be keeping a journal of what happens. Write down what they say every day. And try to get things in writing. Emails are wonderful for documenting things.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    One problem is that my SSD attny doesn't know that I went back to work. Had to to save my house.

    My medical conditions warrented me staying out of the workforce and staying on unemployment till the SSD maybe got approved - but gosh darn it I went on a job interview in Februrary and was offerred this position. This was actually just weeks after "giving up" and applying for SSD.

    I can't work and I can't not work. But at this point I can't allow this or any other job to drive me to the physical or mental edge (and it has).

    I am actually feeling better after having a day and a half away.

    I like the job sharing or reduction of pay - ideas - but at a certain point the diferance between unemployment or working your neck off for 55+ hours a week plus 44 miles of drving each work day -- just isn't worth it.

    My doctors are very supportative of me, and both beleive I should be on SSD.

    I am tough stuff - but when is enough enough?

    My 17 y/o daughter had the lead role in the H.S. fall play. I went last night. She was fantastic!! She and my 14 y/o son are what keep me going. That and the respect I get from the client that I have the pleasure of working with.

    Hoping for everyone to have a wonderful Saturday!
    Bless us all!!

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  • I am just not sure as to the laws about working and applying for SSDI and not working. Seems as though the law has many interpretations in it. You have to do whatever is best for you. Unfortunately if the employer is not willing to give a inch, more than likely nothing you can do. Such a shame, to let a good employee go and not look at the cost associated with it.

    What is happening with you in the SSDI is exactly what they hope to happen. Sure they can back pay you once you are approved but what happens in the meantime? So either you have to have enough money put away to make it or risk loosing it all.

    Sometimes taking a step back and looking at the situation, sheds some light. Glad to hear you enjoyed the play. Hang in there the answer will reveal itself soon. Oh wait, I got it, look in the magic 8 ball?
  • For many reasons it is soo true.

    It is so easy for the docs to say take time off. But are they paying your bills, or making sure your insurance won't cut you off, or your job fire you?

    My doc filled out FMLA for 6 months after shoulder surgery. Said I needed to take time to get better from that and find answer to neck pain. Well I was thrilled. I could worry about myself for 6 whole months (of course that is after doing housework and taking care of kids and hubby)

    Then reality struck. I had 12 weeks and my job could fire me. Lawyer tells me no-fault could and would cut me off long before then and I can't fight them because if I lose I lose my case against other driver. Economy sucks so if I lose this job and benefits get cut off how long will I be out of work with no income?

    I am extremely lucky that I am 12 miles from work, I am part-time 5 days 5 hrs a day, and my boss is very flexible as long as I make my total hours.

    I went back to work at 5 1/2 weeks in case I needed those other weeks this year. I do physical therapy 2 days a week straight from work. And fit doctors in other days. Also taking class two nights a week hoping to be able to start my own tax business.

    I know I am very lucky. Some days I wish I had that time off still to take better care of me. But right now I'm hanging in there.

    I think you really need to speak with your attorney. Going back to work may have been necessary but it may also hurt your overall case. THis happening now might be a big save since it shows that you want to work but can't work.

    Some days I say to myself - screw it all and take the chance with the no-fault and losing job. But I know that legal cases take years and I don't have years of my life to give up. My husband was hurt at work by another contractor. The case has been going on for 6 years now and it looks like it will be several more before we see a penny and we may never see anything since the responsible party is hiding his money in the meantime.

    Only you can make the right decision for you. Good Luck and know that you are doing what is best for you at this time.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    While between a rock and a hard place is ...
    The attorney I spoke with today said that the discrimination and resobable accomodation route was NOT the way to approach this ... That this could be pursued as a workman comp case as the demands of my job have substaintially agravated my physicial condition(s).

    Oh boy ... another day ... another attorney. Funny
    thing is I have never been the type to ask for a hand-out,litigeous, or a burden on society ... I have made over a million dollars in m 47 years of work having starting working full time at age 17.

    I can not continue to continue with the physical and growing mental problems - my neck surgeries have caused me.

    Please include me in your prayers - (If you are the praying type).

    Thank you all so very much,

    Spine-health Moderator
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  • Oh Metal Neck, I am so sorry that you are having such hard time. Lifes sucks some times, thats for sure. I am sure things will get better sooner or later. Please try to stay positive, it will help tremendously.

    I am not the praying kind, but I am the thinking kind. I will be thinking about you.

    Soft Hugs,


  • Dave,
    Gotcha covered. Hang in there as I say the answer will come to you as to what to do. I know much easier said than done. But, the one thing is we all get it. Keep us posted.
  • I guess I was very lucky as my work was very helpful in making sure I had everything I needed when I returned from surgery and to this day.

    I will pray that things work out for you as I know how tough it is to try and work to support yourself and your family while in pain, not to mention to be able to keep your insurance so you can get "fixed".

    Good luck, prayers are headed your way.
  • Metal I am glad you went to an attorney. Now I am going to suggest getting a second opinion from another attorney. You are probably thinking I am nuts -- maybe I am -- but I learned this the hard way twice!

    Six years ago my husband had an injury at work that was caused by another contractor on the job. We got a recommendation from a friend for a lawyer. Met with the lawyer twice and he seemed like a great guy. Figured he was pretty good because he had just bought an office near the courthouse which wasn't cheap. Well two years later he is urging us to take a low settlement. Find out a year after that he had missed a filing date and the case was thrown out but he was too embarassed to tell us. Now we are suing the attorney because the original case is lost.

    Six months ago when I had my car accident I was in a panic. My friend had a similar accident a year earlier and told me I needed a lawyer immediately because he would guide me through the process to make sure I got the most from the insurance. Well you guessed it - I used her lawyer and he is a jerk. About a month later I asked my husband if I should switch because everything was f-ed up. He said no just give it time. Well last month no-fault tried to cut benefits and the lawyers says I'm done getting treatment and to give up because there isn't much of a case. I switched lawyers and now I found out that they didn't cut my benefits and the case is excellent. Turns out the lawyer wanted a quick settlement because he must need the money.

    Moral of the story is just like a doctor you need to get a second opinion on a lawyer. I know time is hard to find but it may be worth the hour or so to avoid jumping in with the first person who promises the world. Also don't be embarassed to collect what is rightfully yours. Did you pay into workers comp for those 30 years? Did you pay into social security all those years? Did you ask for all these problems? I would give anything to have my life back the way it was before the accident. But since that can't happen I am going to get what is due to me so that I can get the treatments that I needs and live out my life in the best way that I can. Very few people become millionaires from these suits. Most are lucky to pay off their debts.

    Good Luck and know that we are all praying for you.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    No return info from the one attny I contacted about workers comp ... and my job gleefully welcomed me back after my couple of days off to "recharge my batteries".

    It seems they have reduced my workload slightly ... and i guess all in all I should be grateful to have a job and have the opportunity to struggle through each day.

    As they say ... no rest for the wicked (or the wonderful) I am not sure which of those I am ... but I guess given the choice (that I haven't been given) I will continue to work.

    Thank all of you SO much for the support, concern, suggestions, and encouragement that you all have so graciously provided.

    You folks are the best of the best.

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  • I hope everything works out ok for you. I guess I've been pretty lucky as my work was very helpful in catering to my needs after my surgery when I went back and to this day. Even so, it is still very hard to work when you are in so much pain. And we have to work to provide for our families and have a roof over our heads, not to mention to have health insurance to care for our conditions. It's very overwhelming sometimes for sure. I will say a prayer that everything works out for you.
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