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Firing Someone For Being Sick
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subego
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Apr 12, 2015, 12:21 PM
 
My ex started a new gig as a clinical psychologist. She's worked there for about 5-6 months. About a month ago, she caught pneumonia. She's been to the hospital at least once a week at this point, and she just went to the ER last night because she couldn't pee, and now they've needed to slap a catheter on her. She has Hello Kitty duct tape holding a pee bag on her leg right now. She can only stand or lay down.

So, if it's not clear, this person is pretty sick.

As you can surmise by the title, she gets the feeling they're going to try and can her for this. Does anyone know if there's some legal recourse here? I've always done contract work, so I don't know the details on this.
     
Chongo
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Apr 12, 2015, 01:04 PM
 
Go to HR and get an FMLA form and fill it out. That should alleviate any concerns.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 12, 2015, 01:17 PM
 
Good call, but she's not covered. Hasn't worked there long enough.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 12, 2015, 01:24 PM
 
When it comes right down to it, I'd say this behavior indicates she has a poor employer, and would be better off somewhere else, but I'm concerned getting fired from her last job won't look good on an application.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 12, 2015, 03:11 PM
 
Not sure her employer policies, but I thought basic standards were, after 3 months probation you earned sick time, vacation, disability, etc.

Especially if it is a medical business/hospital doing the firing, that looks bad.
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 12, 2015, 03:14 PM
 
When she joined the clinic, what sort of contract did she sign? While Illinois isn't a right-to-work state, she may be considered an at-will employee. Or is she considered a contractor? If she's a contractor, she' s probably SOL, I'm afraid.

Her situation sucks, that's for sure. Her employer sounds like a bunch of dicks. Is she covered under her employer's health insurance?
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 12, 2015, 03:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Not sure her employer policies, but I thought basic standards were, after 3 months probation you earned sick time, vacation, disability, etc.

Especially if it is a medical business/hospital doing the firing, that looks bad.
I know, right? They've been forcing her to come in when she shouldn't be, which is making it last longer. You think people in health care would realize that's a bad policy on multiple levels.

She's been there long enough to get sick leave, but that's been burned already.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 12, 2015, 03:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
When she joined the clinic, what sort of contract did she sign? While Illinois isn't a right-to-work state, she may be considered an at-will employee. Or is she considered a contractor? If she's a contractor, she' s probably SOL, I'm afraid.

Her situation sucks, that's for sure. Her employer sounds like a bunch of dicks. Is she covered under her employer's health insurance?
She's an employee, but part time.

She has insurance, but I'm not sure if the employer is providing it.
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 13, 2015, 09:09 AM
 
A part-timer taking lots of sick time only six months into her employment? She probably has good reason to fear they are going to cut her loose, sorry to say. That's just the way the workplace is anymore.

She should at least have a private one-on-one with HR, to discuss her situation proactively, and not wait for management to do something.
     
el chupacabra
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Apr 13, 2015, 11:27 AM
 
Illness is a major cause for job loss and home loss in the US. Scenarios like this are what make the employer paid insurance philosophy an oxymoron. When you get sick enough where you really need insurance the most, you risk losing your job, and the insurance with it if you can't keep paying the bills, which isn't as easy as it sounds since you really have to be on point with your paperwork (transferring it to your name etc) while you're laying nauseous in the hospital.

That said: I would be more worried about her health at this point. Short term pneumonia isn't a big deal, but if she's still going to the hospital a month-in, she's already passed that point and likely has another few weeks to go. Pneumonia does permanent damage and can shorten lifespan. Long term cases sometimes lead to life-long autoimmune disorders such as asthma & MS. They may show up a year or 2 later when you thought you were perfectly healthy. If it were me and I was in close proximity to her, I'd emphasize the basics to her; dont stress over anything, eat right, lots of sleep. All that stuff people know but dont follow. I'd get groceries for her so she wouldn't have to leave the house etc.. With this it's important not just to get better but to get better as quick as possible.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 13, 2015, 01:02 PM
 
I'm way more interested in her health. I'd prefer to convince her to not worry about her job. If she loses it, she's not going to starve, or end up on the street.

My main concern is how much it would impact her next job opportunity.

One of the advantages of doing contract work is the details of my previous contract almost never come up. I assume it's different with longer-term employment.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 13, 2015, 01:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Thorzdad View Post
A part-timer taking lots of sick time only six months into her employment? She probably has good reason to fear they are going to cut her loose, sorry to say. That's just the way the workplace is anymore.

She should at least have a private one-on-one with HR, to discuss her situation proactively, and not wait for management to do something.
Maybe I hang out on reddit too much, but the mantra there is "HR is the enemy: they protect the company, not you".
     
imitchellg5
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Apr 13, 2015, 03:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Maybe I hang out on reddit too much, but the mantra there is "HR is the enemy: they protect the company, not you".
Completely true. I pretty much destroyed my right knee last year. Even though I signed the FMLA paperwork (and I've been there for five years), the pressure from above to come back to work was insane. And yet they said I couldn't come back to work with even a brace, much less crutches. I really felt like they were trying to push me out. As soon as I returned I learned that my position would be eliminated in a month's time... But it's still there.
     
Chongo
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Apr 13, 2015, 03:37 PM
 
At my company if you are on medical leave for more than a year they let you go.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 13, 2015, 04:38 PM
 
She won't be out nearly that long. Her pneumonia seems clipped, but she's got the peeing in a bag problem, or more accurately, it's impossible for her to sit comfortably.

She may be overreacting a bit. I gather they're threatening "probation", so it sounds like she's still got some rope.
     
Thorzdad
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Apr 13, 2015, 07:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Maybe I hang out on reddit too much, but the mantra there is "HR is the enemy: they protect the company, not you".
Yes, that's completely true. That said, unless she's close with her superior (and that person is willing to help), HR is pretty much the only place to go to hopefully get ahead of any negative developments.
     
Cap'n Tightpants
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Apr 13, 2015, 10:35 PM
 
We fired a woman for being "sick" once.

Pro tip: If you're faking an illness, don't post pics to Facebook of the trip to Six Flags you went on while you were supposedly "so sick you could barely stand up".
"I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character." - M.L.King Jr
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 14, 2015, 07:36 AM
 
Well, at least the pee tubes are now clear.
     
ghporter
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Apr 14, 2015, 08:49 AM
 
She should contact HER SUPERVISOR and express her concerns. And she should get her doctor(s) to send a letter to her supervisor explaining her medical issues, with emphasis on how this was not anything she was responsible for. Bonus points to her if her patients/clients have been ill as well (employer exposing employees to illness as part of the job puts the onus on employer).

Being in contact with the supervisor puts the supervisor in the hot seat. Either she has her supervisor's support, or she would do better elsewhere. Not a lot of people get to test that bit of management integrity this early in employment.

By law, FMLA only applies to employees who have been on staff for at least 12 months, which sucks, but it's not the employer's doing. This is a great example of why everybody should have at least some short term disability coverage, by the way. Whether she was hit by a Mac truck or just feels like she was, she is "disabled" for the moment and her income, job, etc. are in jeopardy because of it...

Secondary infections aren't uncommon when one is really, really sick. The urinary infection isn't uncommon at all - if you're that sick, you probably aren't going to get up often to drink or pee, and that is a recipe for a UTI. Keep her drinking water/Gatorade/Pedialyte pretty frequently (hey, she doesn't have to get up to use the toilet if she still has the catheter! ) and the UTI will resolve more quickly than with the antibiotics alone. When she gets "over" the pneumonia, she's going to be weak as a kitten, and she may need more time off (and maybe even rehab) before she can get back to work.

Good luck to her (and you) in this, both medically and professionally.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 14, 2015, 09:27 AM
 
I'm pretty sure it's her supervisor handing out the threats.

She's actually going back in today.

She seems good in the respiratory department. Just sore from the cath, and nauseous from the antibiotics.
     
subego  (op)
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Apr 14, 2015, 11:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cap'n Tightpants View Post
We fired a woman for being "sick" once.

Pro tip: If you're faking an illness, don't post pics to Facebook of the trip to Six Flags you went on while you were supposedly "so sick you could barely stand up".
Same tip goes for telling the judge you're too broke to pay child support, then posting pictures from your Vegas trip on Facebook.
     
   
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