Spondylitis Association of America
Posted By: hippie1120 Can they do this? - 12/15/09 09:51 PM
I hope I am posting this in the correct forum.

I work full time in a non-profit call center (I am a social worker). I was just diagnosed with AS last week, but it has been causing problems for years. Around this time last year, I started having horrible stomach problems, which I now recognize as being related to the AS. The gastroenteroligist I had saw inflammation when she scoped me, but just said it was garden variety IBS. She filled out FMLA papers for me since I was missing so much work. I finally got the stomach problems to calm down by adopting a wheat-free diet, but used up all the FMLA time by then.

I had a stomach flare in July, followed by an attack of anterior uveitis (which at the time, I thought was pink eye). When I returned to work, I was written up and told that due to the "pattern of absences", if I miss any more work to the extent I have to take leave without pay, I will be fired. My boss said she believed I was sick but just couldn't have me out that much. My AS has continued to flare in the form of back/joint pain/stiffness, stomach problems, and 5 bouts of anterior uveitis. I accumulate sick time monthly, so if my sick hours are over the amount of time I've got, I am told I have to make up the time and that under no circumstances can I take leave without pay. What this results in is me working 6,7,8 days in a row, stressing myself out and causing more flares. I thought once I had the diagnosis and all of these seemingly unrelated problems were shown to be from the AS that things would change. They've been dangling that write-up over my head to make me work whenever they want, and I felt like they did that because they didn't believe I was really sick. Now they know I am really sick and they are still refusing to let me take leave without pay; they act like it's out of their hands when all they have to do is get rid of that write-up. Can they do that? And can they fire me for missing work when they know I have a real illness?

I hate to sound naive, and I know other people have it worse. I am just getting so frustrated because they say they want to help me be healthy but in the same breath, refuse to let me take the time I need to rest!
Posted By: Rich Feingold Re: Can they do this? - 12/31/09 03:41 PM
Hi, Hippie1120. Sorry to hear about the problems you've been having with AS and work. I suggest that you speak with an attorney local to you to discuss these employment issues as they may be governed by state, local and/or federal law.

Rich
Posted By: hippie1120 Re: Can they do this? - 01/08/10 05:31 PM
Thank you for your response, I will be doing that. As of yesterday, I have no job. To say I am in shock is an understatement. I just had a performance review and I scored "exceeds expectations" in every category except attendance. I even got a raise! Now this...
Posted By: avonldy Re: Can they do this? - 01/13/10 10:20 PM
I believe that you are protected by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) you could sue them.
Posted By: EmilyCooper Re: Can they do this? - 01/17/10 02:28 PM
Originally Posted By: avonldy
I believe that you are protected by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) you could sue them.


Hmm that's interesting. I have a friend in a similar situation. Do you know what the average settlement is or any idea how much they would payout? Because if it's not that much then there's no point in going to court.

Emily
Posted By: NeyNey Re: Can they do this? - 01/20/10 07:24 PM
I am not an attorney but have a background in ADA. If your job description states that regular attendance is an essential function AND it correlates with business need, you may not have too much of a case. I would really advise you to seek legal advice to see where you stand with this. If you were doing a job where you could be gone and it wouldn't matter as far as the business operating I think you will have a better chance. Also, does your company allow any leave time beyond FMLA? Maybe they could have offered you a LOA as a resonable accommodation. Again, I would definatly seek legal advice. Good luck to you, I know how hard it is to keep working with this disease, especially if it is not well controlled.
Posted By: Banana Re: Can they do this? - 01/21/10 12:58 AM
I don't think you can sue for being absent. Employers need employees to be there. You have a right to the FMLA time, which you used. Doesn't matter if they believe you are sick or not, you are not going to work and that is a valid reason to fire someone. Sorry.

Even FMLA is for larger companies, not for small companies. As far as disabilities they have to offer you a safe environment, like changing your chair etc but they don't have to keep you if you take too much time off. Otherwise, everyone would do it, right?

Anna
Posted By: Rich Feingold Re: Can they do this? - 01/21/10 04:08 PM
Hi, hippie1120 and everyone. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do recommend that consult with an employment law attorney to determine what are your rights and obligations. I wish you the best of luck in this situation.

Rich
Posted By: theyoungestmuse Re: Can they do this? - 09/14/16 12:57 AM
If you have been fired when you have a disability you should contact The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to see if they will take your case. You must do this in a timely manner. Check with them because a regular attorney may not always realize that you do have a case that is EEOC eligible. WITH THE EEOC YOU MUST FILE WITHIN A LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME, so don't wait.
Posted By: Ella Re: Can they do this? - 12/08/16 09:50 AM
Originally Posted By: hippie1120
I hope I am posting this in the correct forum.

I work full time in a non-profit call center (I am a social worker). I was just diagnosed with AS last week, but it has been causing problems for years. Around this time last year, I started having horrible stomach problems, which I now recognize as being related to the AS. The gastroenteroligist I had saw inflammation when she scoped me, but just said it was garden variety IBS. She filled out FMLA papers for me since I was missing so much work. I finally got the stomach problems to calm down by adopting a wheat-free diet, but used up all the FMLA time by then.

I had a stomach flare in July, followed by an attack of anterior uveitis (which at the time, I thought was pink eye). When I returned to work, I was written up and told that due to the "pattern of absences", if I miss any more work to the extent I have to take leave without pay, I will be fired. My boss said she believed I was sick but just couldn't have me out that much. My AS has continued to flare in the form of back/joint pain/stiffness, stomach problems, and 5 bouts of anterior uveitis. Now they know I am really sick and they are still refusing to let me take leave without pay; they act like it's out of their hands when all they have to do is get rid of that write-up. Can they do that? And can they fire me for missing work when they know I have a real illness?

I hate to sound naive, and I know other people have it worse. I am just getting so frustrated because they say they want to help me be healthy but in the same breath, refuse to let me take the time I need to rest!



I accumulate sick time monthly, so if my sick hours are over the amount of time I've got, I am told I have to make up the time and that under no circumstances can I take leave without pay. What this results in is me working 6,7,8 days in a row, stressing myself out and causing more flares. I thought once I had the diagnosis and all of these seemingly unrelated problems were shown to be from the AS that things would change. They've been dangling that write-up over my head to make me work whenever they want, and I felt like they did that because they didn't believe I was really sick.
Posted By: tiabird Re: Can they do this? - 12/14/16 08:29 PM
I am sorry that you have experienced a loss of employment. I'm sure that this is stressful to say the least. Perhaps this will give you enough time to seek treatment and find a job with a little more flexibility.

I will be praying for you!
Posted By: Ella Re: Can they do this? - 12/17/16 11:00 PM
As far as disabilities they have to offer you a safe environment, like changing your chair etc but they don't have to keep you if you take too much time off. Otherwise, everyone would do it, right?
Posted By: hamarly Re: Can they do this? - 12/02/17 10:02 AM
Originally Posted by Ella
As far as disabilities they have to offer you a safe environment, like changing your chair etc but they don't have to keep you if you take too much time off. Otherwise, everyone would do it, right?


I think you've got a point here. Also, if you want to sue them, consider the factors like time, effort, and monies involved and weigh them with consequences.
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