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Layoff After Requesting Accommodations and FMLA
I received a layoff notice today, Friday afternoon, effective immediately. It says it is due to finances, but I believe I was chosen because of my illness. Out of the four employees who have been laid off this month, I had the most seniority, and was the only full-time staff member. I have been working full time at this office for six years. I was the person who trained everyone currently working in my department. As a matter of fact, I’m the one who wrote the job descriptions and delegated assignments when the company changed hands two years ago! There are six other full-time employees in my department who have less seniority than I do, and none of them lost their jobs. I believe that my layoff was, in part, due to filing a request for ADA accommodations this past Monday.
Last month, I received a clinical diagnosis of probable Mito, based on my symptoms and my sister’s confirmed diagnosis of MELAS. I almost never call in sick, but the work is affecting my health. My doctor doesn’t want me to work ten-hour days like I’ve been doing. She told me that I need to either cut back my hours, or telecommute at least 1/3 of the time. She also stated that I cannot lift more than 20lbs, walk long distances, or walk up or down stairs. I know that these restrictions would not adversely affect my productivity. In fact, I would not be surprised if my productivity would actually go up, because I would not be compromising my health the way I am now. On Monday, I gave the letter to my employer. She didn’t say a word about it, didn’t respond to my requests. The accommodations I asked for included a closer parking spot, the opportunity to do some work from home which I have done in the past, and to avoid heavy lifting, which only means that someone retrieves and carries boxes of annexed files for me. She didn’t tell me if she was willing to provide the accommodations or if I needed to be transferred to another position. She was unusually cool and distant throughout the week. I didn’t hear a word from her until this afternoon, when she called me into her office to break the news, and handed me a box to clean out my desk.
I’ve been an absolute wreck. The stress is making my symptoms worse. I have the worst migraine I’ve had in months, I’m too nauseous to hold down anything but ice chips, and my hands are shaking so badly that I can barely hold the glass. I’ve been pushing myself for years. Maybe part of me thought that if I kept busy enough I could forget about this awful disease and the tragic effects it’s had on my sister’s family. As soon as I took steps to start taking better care of myself, I’m out on the street. I finally give in and accept the label of “officially disabled,” and I become disabled and unemployed. Two weeks ago, my GI doctor recommended IV fluid boluses three times a week for four weeks. The infusion clinic is only open 8am to 5pm, so I would need to leave work a few hours early on the days that I have appointments. I gave the GI doctor the paperwork for FMLA and short term disability insurance, and his secretary mailed it to the Human Resource department the next day. I think my supervisor received the paperwork, because she nodded when I mentioned leaving early starting next Monday. Well, next Monday never came. The company let me go before it said a single word about FMLA or my short-term disability. So, does this mean that I get nothing? I had six full weeks of sick time saved up, and now I don’t know if I’ll be able to use it. Can my company do that, lay me off without acknowledging my medically necessary accommodations and medical leave? My husband isn’t home yet, and my kids are out with friends, and I’m just staring at the sparse, impersonal layoff notice…I feel so alone.