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Where do I go?

Humble_PieHHumble_Pie Posts: 75
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Chronic Pain
Alright. I'm at my wits end folks and need some advice. I am a computer programmer who has worked diligently for the same company for 8 years. Over the last 3 years, my spine has gone south. I've had fusions at c4-5, c6-7, and l4 - s2. The most recent was the bottom. My company has offered short term leave / disability for up to 12 weeks according to the fmla but they offer no pay while on leave. I submitted notes from my doctors that said I could perform my duties in a reclined position because sitting up and standing up cause great amounts of pain to me after a very short period of time. I have been off work for a week now waiting to hear back on whether they would "Officially" let me work at home. I have worked at home in the past on several occasions without incident. In fact, I have absolutely no reason to ever go in to the office if I don't want to. I ahve access to all the code and personell remotely.
The response I got was that if I wanted to bring a recliner in to work that would work but they refuse to let me work from home medical condition or not. When I asked why, since my job doesn't require I be in the office at atll, they got all snippy and said "because we said so". Well, you sure showed me now didn't ya!
Problem is I know at least 1 other guy who works from home 2 days per week with no medical conditions at all. I'm not sure why and I never bothered to throw a stink about it. I just find it interesting that I am told absolutely not when he gets 2 days each week. I could understand this if I was a low end programmer or something but I consider myself in the top 5 percentile of all programmers for this large corporation. In fact, the week before I left, they had a party in my behalf where I busted my butt for 1 solid week to finish a project that netted them over $500,000 cash money. I was really the poster boy there for about 5 minutes.
I make well less than $100,000 / yr and am very good at what I do, yet I still don't seem to get any respect whatsoever. Nobody on my team has received a raise in at least 5 years and we are making good money. I can tell because the managers are always driving new Lexus, Mercedes, etc the week after bonus's are passed out.
Anyway, I've drifted a bit here. I have 5 weeks left of the 12 weeks that fmla offers you. I have been told by a benefits attorney that i am a guaranteed candatate for disability and i did purchase long term disability which might be a good thing.
Big problem is that if I wait out the 5 weeks, the company automatically fires me and my long term disability kicks in. This runs for 18 months of which I understand it takes 2 years to get ssd.
Other option is that I go back to work on monday with a recliner and see how things go. The way things feel right now, I'm sure there is no way I can sit there for 8 hours 5 days per week without exploding but what do I do? I am fairly young at 39 and I have a wife that is a stay at home mother who chose to stay out of the work force for the last 12 years. It kills me to see her have to go back to work. Also, what would I do about insurance?

The way I see it is this...

1. Stay out for another 5 weeks, get fired, and start my long term disability. Do I just buy cobra with this option?
Possibly lose my bonus that got put on hold when the company declared bankrupcy a year ago. Rumor has we will be getting those payed out in march in full. My bonus has acrued to around $60,000 and nobody can tell me if I get that if I take disability.

2. Go back to work with a chair. Suffer, hurt, work. I'm afraid my work will try and fire me. If I get fired, I can get workmans comp but that might mess up my chances for collecting long term disability. Also, what happens to the insurance there? Cobra? Again, do I get my payout?

Either way, I am going to have to send my wife back to work which absolutely kills me. She is so good with the kids and the so look forward to seeing her.

I have looked and it seems I have a valid case to push for me being allowed to work at home. Should I go this route?

Should I just go back to work and see how long I can last? Fired or back on leave.

Just stay on leave and get my disability ball rolling.

I know this is long and probably very boring. I am at my wits end. I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone has with regard to this subject.

Thanks in advance. I sure hope I can get something figured out.



  • I'd show up with my recliner.Goodluck to you. Mark
  • This is such a difficult subject to handle. First I have to ask is what does your doctors think about you working these hours? Second what will you be able to different at home that you won't be able to do at work. Keep in mind I have no idea what your accomodations are at home when I ask that question. As far as filing for long term disability don't you need to be out of work for a certain amount of time before that is granted? If you have already started in your FMLA if you return to work how long will you have to go to accumulate the time back? Filing for SSDI is a long process and you need to have funds to wait it out. While you may have doctors stating you are unable to work you may still get a denial. Some states have waiting list for hearings up to two years.

    Cobra is a insurance policy that is offered to all employees. Keep in mind that if your company is making half the premiums on your insurance under cobra you will make the full premiums. Typical cobra premium runs at a 110% for the first term. If your terminate it I do understand there maybe some programs to help you make the premiums but there is some cut off dates associated with the program.

    I am confused as to why you mentioned you could get work comp or did you mean unemployment?

    Anyway keep us posted on what you do and good luck.
  • I do the same thing that you do for a living. My condition is a little different, therefore my work environment has a few twists. It's not possible for me to work from home because of the nature of my work. My company bought me a top notch healthy back office chair. In addition, I have an ottoman under my desk so I can assume a reclining position. I don't do well with anything touching my legs, so I wear shorts when inside my office. Of course shorts in an ice cold office building sucks, so I'm permitted to have a space heater in my office. I bought an electronic stove timer that I set to go off every thirty minutes to insure that I get up and move around throughout my day.

    If you want to continue to work, then there is a solution.

  • I believe someone should tell you what they are thinking. As an employer they are looking at a few things.

    1) In today's economy where there are so many people out there you can get cheaper and without the issues it makes it much easier to not be as accommodating.

    2) I am not sure how your health insurance works but I can tell you that as more people file more claims the premiums go up. They probably are looking at this.

    3) While the first two are real important to them they should also realize that they can not be too mean about it as you can file a suit against them. But once you go this far you pretty much have put yourself in a situation of us vs. them which usually never ends well.

    I would suggest that you go back to them and explain that you really do not want to have trouble and enjoy working there and would like to make the situation work for both. Explain that you want the recliner and that you are willing to pay for it. That will go a long way. Than explain that if the opportunity arises and if it is important enough to you than suggest even a bit lower pay if you can work from home a couple days a week. Do not compare yourself to others as that would put them on the defensive.

    If you still notice they are being combative than you may want to go on the offensive. If your company is doing poorly and has gone through lay offs recently this will make it all that muh tougher.

  • I am in the same boat. Worked from home after surgery for 8 weeks and it was awesome. Never felt better, even after major surgery! I have begged and pleaded to work from home even a couple days a week. I have proved I can do it, there is no need for me to be in the office everyday either, but they won't do it either. It's crap. If it caused some major disruption, or affected someone else or their work, that's one thing, but this BS of just because, is crap. I don't agree with it at all. I struggle in to work every single day and it IS killing me, but nobody really cares. That's just my 2 cents.
  • Be familiar with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities) and what your rights are.

  • Well, its been an interesting ride. Come to find out the person who makes all the decisions is the head of HR who doesn't know the person, the position, the responsibilities, and has waaaay too much power. Anyhow, for now, I found a reclining style office chair that looks pretty nice. I will be taking it in to the office next week and see how things go. I guess if this doesn't work out, I will be forced to look into long term disability. I hope things work out. I'm not too good at keeping things posted but I will let you all know how it goes.

    Thanks for all.

  • I would love to know the type of reclining chair you found. I have the same situation as you...can't sit in a regular chair or stand for any length of time. I am currently on LTD but would love to find a way to get back to work. I work for a company that doesn't allow you to return with any restrictions so it's been tough figuring out how to make it work.
  • Here is the chair I ended up going with.

    Reclining Office Chair

    It reclines to a full 45 degrees and actually will still slide under your desk pretty well. I'll just have to see how it goes.

    As far as getting back to work, HR keeps demanding special documents and notes from my doctors at every turn. They have adamantly refused to help me in any way shape or form in adapting my surroundings, helping with a chair or anything else that would be beneficial.

    The other thing I found out is that the few people in my office that are telecommuting a couple days per week are doing so at the approval of my current management with no knowledge from HR. Thats how they are getting away with it.
    My problem is that somebody inside my department who I have had a couple run-ins with finds it highly entertaining to screw with me and turned me into HR. As soon as they found out about my issues, they demanded I cease working immediately and go on unpaid leave which opened up this whole can of worms.
    Its hard dealing with all the crap I'm being put through not to return the favor in kind and show that there are several people working from home 2 days per week with absolutely no medical condition. Just happens they kiss up to the right people.
    Oh well. I'm gonna march in there with my new recliner tomorrow and they can either throw me out or let me work. I'm not sure how well I'll be able to handle it since this whole situation has made things worse in every way than they were. All I wanted was to try and get my back to calm down for a couple days so I could do my job and this is what I get.
    Working for companies sure isn't what it used to be. Everything has turned into such a market society that there is absolutely no incentive to stick your neck out or go the extra mile for anybody anymore even if you've been there for 10+ years.
  • Thinking of you and praying all goes well :)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I would seek legal counsel as to my rights under ADA. If that did not pan out(which would surprise me) I would get HR to sign off on you purchasing a chair that you can use and having it installed. I would then buy the biggest, loudest, massaging, ergonomic, orthopedic chair, possibly something that had highly magnetic aspects to the electronics that would not be shielded, and that had the most offensive designs on it and force the company to move/remodel to allow installation of the chair that demanded more than average consumption of electricity and difficulty of installation(questions for the lawyer when you go).I would also not take my FMLA in a single block, instead take my FMLA intermittently or with such restricted hours/schedule that production could not be done in a timely manor(restricted hours or excessively long breaks). Hopefully you did realize this is your legal right(they sell books like"FMLA for Dumies")and it is on the web on one of the GOV sites DOL maybe, although harder to read and other workers would have to sit idle while waiting for your work to be completed. If my experience with HR personnel is consistent in your company as most, and assuming your company does not have a large staff of lawyers and is in deed in bankruptcy then an official certified letter from a lawyer will probably get better results, but If I thought they were going to can me I would want to have some fun before I left.Which you lead me to believe in your post. You also need to check on length and price of COBRA. If the ADA aspect did not seem useful to the lawyer than I would make sure to inform your lawyer that your workspace has become a hostile environment and you are being treated differently than your fellow workers without disabilities or whatever suits your particular situation.
  • Of course, a person could end up screwing themselves right out of a job with that attitude.

    An employer isn't required to provide accommodation if the requested accommodation causes undue hardship. That means they can legally tell you to kiss off if the requested accommodation would be exceptionally difficult to accomplish, would significantly increase expenses or would cause undue disruption of other employees' ability to perform their duties.

    That undue hardship rule also applies to requiring a modified work schedule that significantly disrupts the company's ability to maintain its normal course of business.

    And that doesn't even go into the fact that behaving in such a way just cements the stigma attached to disabilities, that so many of us fight every day.

    Just sayin'....
  • You are so over the top its not even funny. You get more bees with honey than vinegar. There are always two sides to a story. Also, I'm sure HP would like to get another job after he is let go for following your advice, references are earned.

  • I guess the worst part of all this is that these were supposed to be my friends. All I wanted was a couple days a week until my back started feeling better since it was their damn snow pile I twisted it on right after surgery. They seemed understanding and caring. They let me stay at home for a week. I even volunteered to purchase a laptop to be helpful. I got all the work done in a timely fashion and was able to lay in a comfortable position while doing it. Next thing I know, I get a letter to cease and decist all work and that I need to apply for FMLA. I tried to get in touch with my bosses / friends. I couldn't get an email or a phone call from them for almost 2 weeks. HR did their best to drag this out so I couldn't meet the 2 week deadline to get me filed before I lost all my benefits. I actually had to march into the office to get my cowardly managers to even acknowledge me and even they they tried to butter me up. I guess I'm more hurt than anything by all this. I've taken my lumps for this company and put 2 of these guys in the positions they have now only to be screwed royally when I needed a little help.
    I walked back into the office today pushing my new chair and not 1 of them has bothered to come say a word. I got the letter from HR stating that I could go back to work and thats what I'm gonna do I guess. I have no other choice. I have 4 children and a wife to care for and I just need to remember that at work, nobody is your friend!
    I hope they don't expect the miracles I pulled for them before. I've just become a regular old worker. I'm gonna punch the clock and do just whats needed. I hope they're happy. If they start giving me crap, I do have plenty of legal avenues and I don't think I'll let it go next time.

    Thanks for all the help people. Its hard to talk to people who don't wake up in screaming pain every day or can't walk or can't wrestle with the kids anymore. Normal people just don't get it. They base their assumptions on the time they stubbed their toe really hard and it hurt for about 5 minutes. Their attitude is get over it but for many chronic pain sufferers, thats just not an option. We do, however, have to live life just like everyone else. I'm still trying to learn how to do that.

    Best Wishes to Everyone.
  • I hobbled into work after the shoulder surgery and had been working from home for 2 months and NONE of my co-workers would even speak to me! They were so mad that I'd been allowed to work from home for the 2 month recovery. That was a year ago and they barely speak to me now! I have worked with some of them for 10 or 15 years and suddenly because I have medical problems I am worthless? It did hurt at first, but then I thought to hell with them. I'd like to give any one of them my nerve pain for one day, they would crap their pants, they have no clue! i no longer go to the unit parties, birthday celebrations, christmas, etc. I don't need people like that - I just keep to myself and do my job.
  • My boss told me I would be fine to work at home, but others in the unit would be upset cuz they'd want to work from home too. I said, well I'd gladly give any of them my nerve pain and skip to work each day if that would help. I have FMLA, etc., etc., doctor's statements for everything, but he won't because he might upset one of them. Unbelievable.
  • They just feel it is unfair that you can work from home and they can not. I know cause we have one or two that work out of the office and I hear the jokes all the time...so what time do you think that person got up today? Sure that person is cranking away on that phone right now...giggle, giggle.

    These are issues as managers we have to deal with.

  • is NOT over the top, in my opinion.

    he's right ON THE MONEY. i'm an ex HR expert. the higher than thou's always felt: feed the horses, starve the slaves. counted on ppl not knowing crap about their rights...and i had the misfortune for years of carrying out their Edited.

    at least CALL the ADA. ask for a mediator. (sp?)
    i won over 20 grand just for having to take NEURONTIN, for gawd's sake. company felt that if i was in that much pain, i couldn't PERFORM. so, now that i'm on disability, i'm discriminated against cuz i can't PERFORM. laughing my insanity off when i can.

    THEY have to buy the damn chair for you. THEY have to accomodate your disability. but THEY will and CAN find reason to get rid of you....with or without documentation ....if YOU don't know your rights.

    i'm just saying....

    makes me so mad.

    Post edited for inappropriate language by Authority member haglandc
  • There's a huge difference between advocating for your rights in order to secure necessary accommodations and what was described above. There is not one part of ADA that gives chronic pain patients (or any other disabled persons) the right to act like buttheads, just for the sake of inconveniencing other people.

    This is not reasonable accommodation for a disability, under any circumstances:
    I would then buy the biggest, loudest, massaging, ergonomic, orthopedic chair, possibly something that had highly magnetic aspects to the electronics that would not be shielded, and that had the most offensive designs on it and force the company to move/remodel to allow installation of the chair that demanded more than average consumption of electricity and difficulty of installation(questions for the lawyer when you go).
    That's nothing more than a temper tantrum, designed to make other people miserable. Not to mention, the unshielded magnetic aspects to this "accommodation" cross a line beyond just being inconsiderate, since they place other people (like me and Dave) at risk of permanent physical harm.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,841
    in life.
    I can understand your situation. I was a software engineer (fancy word for programmer) for a large company for over 35 years. 33 of those years I suffered from multiple lumbar and cervical surgeries.
    After 25 years of doing this and forcing myself to drive to work 1 hour each way and working 8-10 hours on a computer took its toll. I was fortunate in the fack that when I was no longer able to physically be at work every day, the company was starting to move towards working from home. The last 10 years of my job, I worked 100% from home, mostly due to my medical condition. During that time period I was out on short term disability about 5 different times (13 weeks at a time)
    The next step was long term disability. However, I've seen some of the cases that went forward and it was next to impossible in obtaining one, even when lawyers said it was a shoe in.

    The company always maintained it was their right to decide who and how long a person could work from home and that they could take that away in a second without just cause.

    If a company wants to unload someone, they will find every legal way to accomplish that. Job performance is not always as important today as it was years ago. Today, being a long time employee, with a good pension and solid benefits make you at times too expensive to keep.

    Bringing in your own recliner to me would be a crazy request from your company, Unless they physically approved of the recliner, they could open themselves to many legal battles if you or a co-worker got hurt because of your recliner
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I work for a big company and like Ron says, they have all their policies etc, posted and printed.

    It does not take a genius to read between the lines.
    It pretty much says, we will accommodate your needs if we deem it is possible to alter you job duties and you will still provide a service to us that we want. They also say this will be done depending on exactly what the accommodation is.

    I love the last line, if the current position can not be modified, one will be looked for within the corporation, they will not create one, nor will they place you on a rehire list should one become available after you are "let go"...

    They pretty much say, We love you, but we can fire you if we want to....

    P.S. I want one of those chairs!
  • i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but laws or no laws, and i know this from personal experience, work people want you there doing your job and they don't care if you are in pain or not. they think, if you can't work then leave. they don't care, they don't want to hear complaints about my pain etc. all they care about is that you can perform your job and show up. my school district gave me an orthopedic chair when i asked for one but that is all they care about. when i was in hospital with surgeries, i got no flowers, phone calls, cards, etc and when i got back no one asked how i was doing or what can we do for you. it is a cold hard world out there
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I'm in the same position as Dave and HP. However my company is more like Dave's. I have an office. We also have an Ergo Group. They analyze what is need and try to help. They offered me the expensive chair and I tried it. Didn't like it. I ended up asking if I could just buy my own chair. Like maybe a recliner or something else. My boss, Ergo Group, and HR said do whatever it is that makes you able to do your job. They offered to convert my desktop computer to a laptop so I could work in a recliner. Some companies still stand behind their people and try to make a bad situation better. They sympathised with my issues and needing surgery.

    After surgery I worked from home "as needed". I still have somedays I work from home. I don't do it all the time because of the whiners who will run to HR complaining they want to work from home too. Since I had physicians note HR said that was all that was needed.

    I'm with BW and Dave on the attitude issue. Acting like a butthead is not going to help. You need the job. Be professional, even if they aren't. If you want to take legal actions just be prepared to be unemployed. Factoryrat works for ABC, and I'll assume on the assembly line based on his id. Union workers get away with a lot of crap the rest of us can't. Also keeep in mind Jasro that if he is in a "right to work" state. They can fire him for little to no reason. He has a wife that doesn't work and 4 kids. Unfortunately that means standing up for his rights and fighting the good fight might mean they go without a paycheck. I'd watch my mouth with my employers and focus on what I needed to do to keep the job.

    If your employer sucks that bad then start looking for another job. As the economy swings around there will be other opportunities.

    I do agree that after all those years working for a company that there would be some loyalty. Unfortunately most companies today are loyal to the almighty dollar only. A job for life went out with our parents or grand parents.
  • Here is a copy of the 2nd letter I sent my companies personnel dept after I didn't receive a response from the first one. All names, etc have been changed so there will be no liability, etc. I just want some input as to whether this letter seemed appropriate and professional. Be forewarned. It is a little long winded.

    Thanks All


    Below is a letter that I sent to you on Feb. 10. I didn't receive a response so I thought I would resend it as your input and authority have direct bearing on whether I am able to continue my employment with My Company. I added more current information at the bottom.

    Ms. Personnel Manager,

    I have been an employee of MY COMPANY for over 8 years in which I have contributed to several large programming projects for both SUB_COMPANY 1 and SUB_COMPANY 2. Over the past several years, I have been diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease that has caused some serious spinal problems. I have had 2 spinal fusions in my neck C4-C5 and C7-C8. In September, I had to have another spinal surgery in which I required spinal fusions from L4-S2 in the lower part of my back. I took off 5 weeks under FMLA and returned to work. With the economy the way it is, I was anxious to get back to work and I believe I may have come back sooner than my body was ready for. I have been working full time as a programmer at SUB_COMPANY 2 since about the middle of October. At that time, I started having back pain which would be expected after such a surgery. I asked if it would be possible to get a higher quality chair than the one I currently was using since I considered this to be a big part of my problem. At the time, I was denied any help so I went out and purchased a chair that I though would be helpful to my situation. The chair helped out for a while but it soon became apparent that sitting upright for 8+ hours per day was going to be very difficult with my condition as it was already beginning to cause more problems. With the type of surgery I received, sitting and standing both put pressure on my lower spine. The only option I had was to lay down somewhere. For the next several months, I spent my lunch break reclined in my car for an hour. This seemed to help just enough to get me through the rest of the day. By the end of the day, It was very difficult to drive home to My City. Once home, I would usually take my pain medication and go lay down for the rest of the night. This is a problem since I have 4 small children that need their father. Occasionally, I would take a day off and work from home. This seemed to work great as I already had the computer to run the software as well as the VPN access to the network. The kids all leave for school and I didn't need anything else to be able to function. While doing this, I actually believe my productivity improved substantially. I was able to write code until my back started causing problems as usual. At that time, I would just go lay down on the couch or love-sac and read for about 15 minutes. This I cannot do in my current situation. I try to get up and walk around but end up sitting down again in excruciating pain. This makes it very difficult to concentrate and focus at the level I need to operate. At that point, my management staff was gracious enough to allow me to work from home a couple of days per week. This was a great help. After 2 weeks, somebody decided they should inform HR who, in turn, demanded I file for FMLA immediately and cease all work. I was asked how long this would take and I didn't have an answer. With the caliber of problems I have with my back, it will probably be this way forever. At this time, I decided I would talk with my doctors about how I could continue to work as I wish to avoid disability insurance for as long as I possibly can. I have 4 small children and a wife that I need to take care of. I need a paycheck, not a handout. I asked HR if it would be permissible to work from home since I and my bosses know I can perform my duties at 100%. I understood that according to the ADA act, employers are required to accommodate disabled workers within reason. I found this link http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/telework.html and it talks about similar circumstances and concludes that working from home is a reasonable accommodation. I would even be willing to negotiate working from home 2 - 3 times per week.

    The response I received was as follows:
    Dear Humble Pie,

    This letter is to inform you that we (The ABC's) have denied your request to work from home. Please turn in your FMLA paperwork so that we can process. If you wish to continue working from the office, we will need a doctor's release. If you need a chair that reclines, you will have to provide one and My Copmany Inc will not be held responsible if something happens to your property. We will also need a doctor's note that is more specific to your limitations as the two letters you provided were not consistent with one another.


    FMLA Person


    Is it not standard procedure to get an explanation as to why all avenues to accommodate my disability are being denied? The reason I ask this is because I asked FMLA Person. She told me she asked her superior who makes these decisions and that he said it didn't matter. He wasn't going to allow it and that was that. He didn't need a reason.

    I'm not a HR manager but it would be my impression that Mr. ABC would look over the circumstances surrounding the individual as well as the job the individual performs before making a judgment. I spoke with my direct supervisors Boss1 and Boss2 to see when they were contacted and I was informed that they were never contacted regarding the decision that was made. According to both Boss1 and Boss2, they stated they would be perfectly fine with me working from home for a period of time whether full-time or part-time.

    Based on these observations, it doesn't seem to me that my case was reviewed in any way or with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act before being denied. I feel I have put in several great years of service with My Company and it is my hope that a reasonable explanation can be supplied as to why I (a programmer) would not be allowed to telecommute or receive support by the way of a supportive chair that would recline and help my spinal problem. When I asked FMLA Person as to whether the Americans with Disabilities act was taken into consideration, I was informed that Mr. ABC said he didn't care.

    Programmers telecommuting to their jobs is becoming an ever increasing solution to companies that are trying to save money and save quality employees without having to spend high amounts of money. Below are a few links that talk about telecommuting and the effects it has on the workplace.




    It is my hope that an objective view can be taken and I can receive a valid explanation as to why My Company is unwilling to accommodate my medical condition in any way. I have truly enjoyed working with My Company over the years. I must say I was very surprised with the handling of my case. I feel that I am being forced out of the company due to an injury that was not my fault, definitely not my desire, and can have no impact on my work performance with very minor accommodations.

    As of now, I have spent $2000 of my own money trying to make accommodations to allow me to work for My Company. At first, I was informed I could work from home for a period of time and I purchased a high end laptop that cost me $1400. Yesterday, I ordered a fully reclining chair at the cost of just over $400 because I was told I would be able to bring in a recliner. Now I have been informed once again that I need more notes from my doctors before I will be allowed to return to work. The 2 letters I turned in last Friday both stated that I needed to be reclined in order to work. I don't know what another letter will provide except wasting more time towards the FMLA time limit in which I will be immediately terminated, which I feel is much of the motive behind all this. I'm not sure this is what FMLA or The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to do.

    It is my hope that we will be able to reach an amicable agreement that serves both parties. My Company can keep one of the best programmers they've ever had and I can keep working for My Company. This is what I truly desire.

    I would appreciate any feedback or recommendations you may have.

    Thank you for your time.

    Humble Pie

    Ms. Personnel Manager,

    I have since returned to work on Feb. 17 with my new chair. I was fairly optimistic because my back felt pretty good at the end of the day. Thursday I was a bit sore but nothing too bad. Friday, I attended a meeting that was about 2.5 hours long and haven't been able to get out of bed for 3 days. It is now monday Feb. 22 and I feel my only recourse is to resume FMLA and apply for LTD. Of course, I have tried everything possible to avoid this. I don't see my medical condition as permanent and my hope is that I will be back to normal in time. All I can ask is that I be afforded a small courtesy until that time comes. This in no way will have a negative impact on the company and very little if any on my performance. I know there are individuals in my department that work from home several days per week and perform the exact same tasks that I do, yet they are allowed to do this without any medical condition I am aware of. I am at a loss as to why the same courtesy isn't extended to other employees especially when a medical conditions comes about that requires it.

    I await your timely response as time is very critical at this juncture.

    Thanks again

    Humble Pie

    Post edited for inappropriate language by Authority Member haglandc
  • It sounds like you're doing all that you can. It's important that you get as much documentation from your letters and get their responses in writing as well. Kudos to you.

    You have a legal right to review your employee file. Granted, no one can prove they've removed a letter or two before you're allowed to review it.
    And, sigh...asking to see it may label you as a
    "trouble maker". So make this personal decision
    whether or not to ask for it based upon your own
    judgement. (sp?) May not be a good idea now...just
    remember it's your right should you ever wish to see

    You attny can request your employee file as well if
    things get nasty. I truly hope that they don't get

    please document your discussions, request, responses
    to your request with dates, names and times. It will
    help you in the long run should you ever need to get
    more aggressive with the company.

    I applaud you for continuing so hard to keep your employment. You've been extremely creative in trying to work this out with your employer.

    Please keep updating.

    Very Best Regards,

  • HP,
    Here in England we have the DDA which proposes for reasonable adjustments and that does not seem a provision that your employer could not supply without moderate support or intervention.

    It is always difficult when the emphasis we placed on our value to the company defers to just being a number and all the suggestion of harmony was just rhetorical platitudes. Knowing what you should do can only be determined from your perspective, if you should fight from within and all the potential anguish that will bring. Any opportunity to let you go may be under consideration and you are fortunate as yet that your condition has not impacted sufficiently on your attendance or performance that may be now under closer scrutiny.

    Would you want to work for a company that did not have your best interest at heart, I had three young children when my time arose and seeking alternative employment with a bad back is always problematic irrespective of the suggestion that discrimination is not a facet of the employment process. The benefits of home working are 20 years old and profits everyone and some employers have yet to acknowledge the unique advantage this give the company and its employees, your status is now divulged I as others wish you well in continuing employment that chronic pain continues to impact on all those employed.

    To some extent I was forced out from a National company that gave no consideration to accommodation of any reasonableness, it did not need a second change to reduce its manpower costs based on me alone, I have moved on and sought employment in another industry rather than telecommunications, they may need to carry me out of here !

    Take care and good luck.


  • I feel the need for one of those disclaimer statements. I think the letter is fine as far as not being a butthead about things, but I don't think it's going to get the most bang for your buck as far as effectiveness of accommodation goes.

    If it were me, I would concentrate less on trying to pull them into the social/emotional aspects of the situation and more on the concrete aspects. Also, don't fan out into generalized arguments for things like cost/benefit analysis of telecommuting. They don't give a rats patootey about how you feel, physically or emotionally, or what other people in your company (or other companies) are doing in general. Stay within the scope of your disability issues, because everything else is really irrelevant.

    If it were me, I'd write another letter, more focused, that makes very clear requests for specific accommodation under ADA and providing all the supporting documentation needed, in a single submission.

    You can use the text of the ADA legislation to guide you, just don't fall into the trap of trying to using a bunch of big words or trying to sound lawyer-ish with all that notwithstanding the party of the first part with obligations in heretofore to the party of the second part blah blah blah. Make sure you use proper grammar and sentence structure, be specific and and stay on point as far as relating your disability issues to your employment.

    If you don't already have the link, here's the current ADA text:


    If I were writing the letter, I'd start with a very brief reminder (3-5 sentences, tops - no philosophical ramblings) of why the ADA exists and an employer's obligations under ADA. There's really good stuff in the text of the legislation on that, which can be directly referenced/attached. Doing so brings you out of the gate strong, and makes it very clear to your employer that you're well aware of your rights under the law.

    From there, I'd take another short paragraph (again, 3-5 sentences, tops) to address a couple of basic definitions, just to be very clear that ADA does apply to you and to your company. And, again, making direct references to the "definitions" section of the legislation -

    Definition of covered employer:
    The term "employer" means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such person, except that, for two years following the effective date of this subchapter, an employer means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has 25 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year, and any agent of such person.
    Definition of a qualifying employee:
    The term "qualified individual " means an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. For the purposes of this subchapter, consideration shall be given to the employer's judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job.
    If you have a signed copy of your job description, then I would make direct reference to that and attach a copy to the letter. The most recent signed copy is the essential job functions as they are defined for your position at that moment. That's really all they can hold you to, even if you've agreed verbally to perform other tasks since that description was signed. If there were major modifications to your essential job functions, you should have re-signed a new job description that reflected the changes identified. That's a bit of laziness in housekeeping for many companies' HR departments, but one that works very much in your favor.

    From there, I would move on into the more specific issue of your disabilities, point by point, in a very non-emotional way. As hard as it is to stay unattached emotionally, you need to. When you delve into the emotional areas, like pointing out a 2.5 hour meeting put you in bed for 3 days and/or that you have 4 children that need you, you actually risk screwing yourself royally. There's nothing your employer can change that will make you better. It's not their fault your life is sucking so badly right now. Laying those issues it at their feet just puts them on the defensive.

    One of the most important things to keep in mind with ADA is that the medical information you provide is completely voluntary. Unless it's a matter of essential job function, workplace safety, or business necessity, an employer can't demand details beyond what you choose to provide.

    Your employer can decline your request if they don't have enough information about the specific issue you're requesting accommodation for, but they can't request information beyond that issue, such as copies of your full medical history/records. A letter from the appropriate professional(s) confirming the individual issues and the need for accommodation is more than sufficient. Again, from the ADA text:
    (4) Examination and inquiry

    ( A ) Prohibited examinations and inquiries

    A covered entity shall not require a medical examination and shall not make inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.

    ( B ) Acceptable examinations and inquiries

    A covered entity may conduct voluntary medical examinations, including voluntary medical histories, which are part of an employee health program available to employees at that work site. A covered entity may make inquiries into the ability of an employee to perform job-related functions.
    With that said, since you're asking for accommodation, you're going to need to provide information that supports that. Keep it specific and to the point; don't ramble or say things that aren't pertinent to your job performance and that can be used against you later.

    Personally, I would go point by point:

    1) list the diagnoses causing a problem and a very brief description of the impact it has on your ability to perform your work

    2) Define the specific limitations your physician has placed on you as a result of the diagnosis/treatment, and whether those are permanent or not.

    3) Propose the specific, reasonable accommodations you believe will allow you to return to full productivity. Don't get stuck on one single option as your "cure all" and lock yourself into demanding a certain accommodation. Leaving room for compromise will go a long way toward getting cooperation.

    Once you've addressed all the requested accommodations, add a nice summary/closing paragraph. Remind them that you're considering the letter as a formal request for accommodation, that all supporting documentation is included/attached, and that you appreciate a timely, written response. Then reiterate your desire to continue working for your company and that you're hopeful the requested accommodations will resolve any issues.

    Once you've finished the letter to your employer, you can just go back and copy/paste the disability/accommodation part of text into a second document, to turn into a pre-written letter for your primary physician(s) to sign. DON'T just provide your employer with copies of your medical records, because they contain information you don't need to share. All you need is for your physician(s) to confirm you're currently receiving care for the specific issues that are directly impacting your employment.

    Also, it might take a bit longer to accomplish, but get everything together (including the physician letters, job description, ADA text references, etc.) and submit it to your HR department all together, in a single envelope, so that they can't say they don't have all the necessary information. Be sure to request a response in writing to each of the accommodations you've proposed and a timeframe to implement them.
  • This is a lot of great information. I am, as you noticed very emotional about this and I am glad to have some clear heads steering me in the right direction. This can be a very overwhelming experience when you've never had to deal with anything like this before.
  • I feel for you. After my surgery I just did not get back to feeling good at all and my pain progressed. At first my company was fine with me working from home. Then I decided to try and come in for a few set hours here and their. Then out of the blue they tell me I can not work from home anymore and that if I need additional time off that I can take it but will be unable to work from home and will have to take the time off unpaid. I too have a husband and children and can not afford to not work. So I came back and am working full time since September and have been miserable ever since.

    The only part that gets me is that we have several people at my company that work from home on a daily basis as well. And they do not have any medical conditions at all, most of it is because they have children they want/need to tend to and my company has graciously allowed them work from home to be with children. It is very frustrating to say the least. I am very productive working from home so it is not like I do not get things done, and then some, I and have the ability to lay down when I need to and rest so I do not get into such pain that I can't function. I have dropped the issue about working from home for now but intend on bringing it back up soon, not sure how that will pan out. I am waiting to see my new spine doc and pain management doc and then am going to go from there. I can't handle sitting here everyday, eight-ten hours a day, it is miserable. I sit here on a daily basis wishing I was laying in bed and not sitting in this miserably uncomfortable chair. :(

    Good luck to you and keep us posted.
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