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Termination while on short term disability

On Lawyer & Legal » Employment & Labor Law

6,855 words with 5 Comments; publish: Mon, 20 Oct 2003 17:33:00 GMT; (80062.50, « »)

The state is: Georgia, USA

I have systemic lupus erythmatosis, and work in the mortgage industry. I have been out on short term disability from 9/4-10/9, then 10/10-present.

I received payment for my time out in Sept/Oct. went back to work and tried to work, left at noon, then saw my doctor again. He had my short term disability forms and I notified my employer that I had not received a return to work date, and the doctor had my forms for the STD.

My doctor still had them as of today, 10/20 when my employer's HR representative wrote me an email stating that I was terminated effective 10/27 because I had not given them a note and/or paperwork for STD.

I wrote back and asked that if I went to the doctor and got the forms physically today, and explained the need for them today, could I send them in and be okay.

I received an email from my supervisor stating that I was in fact, terminated today, 10/20 and that his email supercedes the previous one. Result: my forms are not good now.

I have kept in communication with my employer and told them I was at the mercy of the doctor sending the forms out. I feel that they just want to get out from paying me my proper and due short term disability pay and get rid of me altogether, since I have a chronic, lifelong disease.

Should I seek an attorney in this area to represent me for this? I feel wronged. I was not covered under the FMLA since I was not there a year, but should have been covered under the ADA. Please advise.

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    • Thanks for all your help!

      I guess I was thrown because after the initial notification with a date of 10/27 I went and got the doctor to complete the forms and appropriate notes needed, explaining the urgency of the situation. Then, I came home and found they amended the termination date to 10/20 so that it did not matter. I had told them the doctor had these things and had not returned them to me before I left, as well as in writing several times previous to this.

      I will be fine if they let me cobra.

      The other departments in the company do not do business this way though so I guess I was just unfortunate to be in the department that treats its employees this way.

      Thanks again for all your help and advice. I am just venting now. I really do appreciate your help.

      #1; Tue, 21 Oct 2003 09:40:00 GMT
    • One more thing... the reason stated for my termination is that I did not provide proof of short term disability. I was told that other employees come to work every day and provide written excuses when off sick and that I had not done that. Was the fact that I have done so until this last two week time frame not enough? Does the fact that I received payments before negate the facts now? I have only continued the disability for the same reasons as before.

      I have proven to the satisfaction of the insurance carrier that I met the requirements for STD. I also have provided the employer with all the written notes they should need. My notes always state that I have been under the care of the physician during the appropriate time frames and that I am eligible to return to work on ___ date.


      #2; Mon, 20 Oct 2003 19:09:00 GMT
    • The ADA is not about leave time. It is about providing an accomodation for you to be able to do your job. So the ADA is not going to require your employer to continue to hold your job open while you are on medical leave, assuming you even qualify, which has not been established. (There is no condition other than HIV/AIDS which is AUTOMATICALLY covered under the ADA, EVERY other condition has to be looked at on a case by case basis.)

      If you were not covered by FMLA, and since Georgia does not have a state law requiring medical leave, it was not illegal for them to terminate your employment. Nothing in the law requires them to hold your job open indefinitely. Even if the forms had been turned in, that is not a guarantee of continued employment.

      While it depends on the plan document, in the very large majority of cases, termination of employment does NOT terminate your disability benefits. So unless you've already been told otherwise, don't assume that your disability benefits will end with your employment.

      #3; Mon, 20 Oct 2003 18:04:00 GMT
    • If you were covered on the health plan they are required by law to offer you COBRA unless you either were fired for gross misconduct (which is not the case here) or your employer has less than 20 employees AND you are in a state that does not have a state continuation plan. However, they have a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 44 days (depending on whether they self-administer their COBRA or use a third party administrator) to give you the information on COBRA; they are not required to give it to you at the time of termination.

      They can terminate you by e-mail, by phone, by certified letter, or by carrier pigeon, however they choose. The form of the termination is not dictated by the law. The law does not require them to give you a written warning.

      No, the fact that you had provided excuses until the last few weeks is not enough if they don't want it to be. If they require notification for each absence, then the fact that you'd always followed policy before now does not mean they have to forgive you if you didn't this time. Unless you are covered under FMLA (when different rules apply to certification and recertification) they are free to hold you to company policy regarding any absences. If they want certification for each absence, they can require it.

      If your STD plan is like most plans, there is a requirement that the employer complete certain sections, so it is doubtful that sending the forms directly to the insurance carrier will help. You can try it, though - I had an employee do that once just because she didn't understand the procedure, and the insurance carrier sent me the form they needed me to complete while holding the rest of the forms until they got mine.

      The fact that the insurance carrier agrees that you are disabled under the policy does NOT mean that it was illegal to terminate your employment. It only means that you will likely continue to receive benefits even though your employment was terminated.

      I realize that this seems unfair to you, but I still don't see any laws that your employer has broken.

      #4; Mon, 20 Oct 2003 22:46:00 GMT
    • I was also wondering if I am eligible to cobra my health insurance as well. No one has said anything about disability or health insurance as of yet. I am on chemotherapy right now and I would hate to lose getting my meds. My meds cost over $700 a month without the insurance. My husband's meds are over $800 a month.

      I have only received emails to this point as well. Is an email considered appropriate form for termination? Should I have received a written warning first?

      So, should I send my forms in to the insurance carrier instead of my employer?

      Please advise.

      #5; Mon, 20 Oct 2003 18:50:00 GMT