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Is it legal to screw me out of 2 days work?


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So at work this week, we are off. The office just happens to be closed through Labor Day. The Friday before going on break, I overlooked a tiny detail that ended up keeping me and my boss in the office for four extra hours. She sent me an email saying she knew we were off this week, but she wanted to meet with me and "one or two" higher-ups to "discuss Friday's incident". 

I told her I couldn't, as I was going to be in a partial-hospitalization program this week, and I'd be unavailable. At that point, I thought it might be a good two weeks before I was going to be able to get back to work. (Med problems, long story)

i told her that was a possibility, so she asked for a list of things that needed to be done in the next two weeks. I gave her that. 

Everything with the partial-hospitalization fell through, but I haven't told her that. I managed to get in to see my old pdoc on Wednesday, and he's fixing me up. 

Friday, she decided to ask for a doctor's sign-off on my ability to go back to work before I'm allowed back. I called my pdoc' office, and he's on vaycay til Wednesday, meaning I can't go back to work until Wednesday or Thursday. I let my boss know, and she said I'd have to wait to come back until then, despite my saying I'd prefer to come back Tuesday (we're still closed for Labor Day Monday).

Here's my question: Can she truly dick me out of two day's pay because of something that is out of my control? Wtf?

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The note from the doc is standard practice when someone is out for an extended period. Covers their liability.

Most of us in the USA, when employed, are "at will". You work at the will of your employer. (the other way to work is by contract). They are not required to continue offering a job or to offer you a job at all. They can fire you at any time for any reason or no reason at all. So yes, your work can do what it is doing.

It is no surprise employment law favors the employer. Unemployment law tends to favor the employee. This sucks.

You can call the unemployment office or the wage and salary office, state your scenario and ask if work can the do that and at least in this state they will tell you their opinion. I've done it before when I was an at will employee. Free legal advice, how about that.

http://employment.findlaw.com/hiring-process/at-will-employee-faq-s.html

Quote

Many people are surprised to learn, whether from an employment contract or employee handbook, that they are an "at-will employee." This means that your employer can terminate you at any time, for any cause -- with or without notice. An employer has every right to walk up to an at-will employee and say, "I don't like that your favorite color is purple. You're fired." There are very few, if any, remedies for you, unless your employer did something to violate your employee rights or broke labor laws.

 

Edited by notloki
Document meaning "at will" employment
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1 hour ago, M@ri said:

I don't even remotely know the answer to this, but want you to know that I've read it and I hope that you get your work days.

Thanks, Mari. I hope she doesn't dock my pay, or I'll be in a world of hurt. 

56 minutes ago, notloki said:

The note from the doc is standard practice when someone is out for an extended period. Covers their liability.

Most of us in the USA, when employed, are "at will". You work at the will of your employer. (the other way to work is by contract). They are not required to continue offering a job or to offer you a job at all. They can fire you at any time for any reason or none at all. So yes, your work can do what it is doing.

It is no surprise employment law favors the employer. Unemployment law tends to favor the employee. This sucks.

You can call the unemployment office or the wage and salary office, state your scenario and ask if work can the do that and at least in this state they will tell you their opinion. I've done it before when I was an at will employee. Free legal advice, how about that.

Thanks, notloki.

I'm so terrified of losing my job, as I'm the breadwinner at home. 

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3 minutes ago, survivingbp said:

So I think the question you are asking is whether she can make you take two days leave given you have to wait for your pdoc for a medical certificate. In this case, I strongly believe yes. At my current employer, they would make you take sick leave for that. If that's gone, leave without pay. 

The meeting with several higher-ups about the "incident" sounds scary. Is there anything else you've done that might indicate you're not meeting their performance expectations? Or that they might have an issue with your mental health (probably illegal but happens all the time)? It seems like a lot to ask for a meeting with several higher-ups, like it could be a warning of some sort. I've never heard of such a meeting that isn't a verbal warning or the beginning of a performance plan.

If you do get a performance improvement plan, you'll have to sign some stuff with goals, and if that happens, I would start applying to other jobs ASAP. If you do have a plan, you'll have a month or two to achieve the goals they specify, but that also means that they can't really fire you until the plan is over. So even if it looks like you're on the way out, you will have a few months to put something together. It will buy you a few months of salary and the time to set something up. 

I'm really worried about the meeting she wants to have. "I've had my meds screwed up by a couple assholes at the hospital up the road, but I'm okay now, really," sounds not good. But if this were any other illness, it would be different. I don't think there are other performance issues, or at least she hasn't brought them up. She's only been my boss for a month, and my old boss, who left to spend more time with his baby, gave me a glowing performance appraisal a week before he left, and it's in writing in my file. 

The thing that's really worrying me is that when the position she's in opened, she asked me to pass along good word for her, and I told her I was also applying for the position, so fingers crossed for both of us. She knows that I think I can do her job, and I got to the top 8 people out of 40 in the interview process. I don't want her to hold that against me, but I'm sure she is. 

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This should be covered in the employee manual you got (and signed/agreed to follow) when you first started at this job. At my work any unplanned absence of more than 4 days requires a doctor's note before we're allowed to return. The unfortunate thing is that if we were talking about a physical illness, e.g. pneumonia, you could in theory go to a walk-in clinic to get a return to work note. That's probably not the case here, due to a variety of factors not the least of which is the stigma surrounding MI.

What's odd to me, is that your saying you couldn't meet during off-hours shouldn't then require a doctor's note for return when you haven't missed much work. How many unplanned/sick days did you take off before this week that the office was closed? My employee manual says at 4 or more full days of work they need a doctor's note. So if you take time off for an IP stay or use FMLA for a long absence. 

Check your employee manual, it might be with the papers you signed when you started your job. Feel free to ask your boss for clarification in writing as to why they require a medical certificate when you didn't end up taking time off - you just weren't available during off-hours when the business was closed anyway. How dare you have a life and make plans such that you're not at their every beck-and-call. Ask if there is an employee manual that states this policy.

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I agree with Geek about the doctor's note and about not being available after hours. I also agree with survivingbp that the meeting with your boss and higher ups sounds scary. Let's hope that the meeting is nothing at all. Good luck, heil. You deserve it after all you've been through.

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3 hours ago, Geek said:

This should be covered in the employee manual you got (and signed/agreed to follow) when you first started at this job. At my work any unplanned absence of more than 4 days requires a doctor's note before we're allowed to return. The unfortunate thing is that if we were talking about a physical illness, e.g. pneumonia, you could in theory go to a walk-in clinic to get a return to work note. That's probably not the case here, due to a variety of factors not the least of which is the stigma surrounding MI.

What's odd to me, is that your saying you couldn't meet during off-hours shouldn't then require a doctor's note for return when you haven't missed much work. How many unplanned/sick days did you take off before this week that the office was closed? My employee manual says at 4 or more full days of work they need a doctor's note. So if you take time off for an IP stay or use FMLA for a long absence. 

Check your employee manual, it might be with the papers you signed when you started your job. Feel free to ask your boss for clarification in writing as to why they require a medical certificate when you didn't end up taking time off - you just weren't available during off-hours when the business was closed anyway. How dare you have a life and make plans such that you're not at their every beck-and-call. Ask if there is an employee manual that states this policy.

Right?! I haven't missed any days. We just happened to be off this entire week. So it doesn't make sense that what I disclosed as a personal mental health matter that could, potentially, require treatment past our vacation week, but now doesn't, would merit needing a doctor's clearance. 

2 hours ago, jt07 said:

I agree with Geek about the doctor's note and about not being available after hours. I also agree with survivingbp that the meeting with your boss and higher ups sounds scary. Let's hope that the meeting is nothing at all. Good luck, heil. You deserve it after all you've been through.

Ugh, thank you, jt. I'm definitely worried. It's definitely not a good meeting. I also have been honest with my boss, who works with me every day, about my MI, but not the higher-ups. I'm hoping she hasn't passed that info along to them. 

18 hours ago, survivingbp said:

So I think the question you are asking is whether she can make you take two days leave given you have to wait for your pdoc for a medical certificate. In this case, I strongly believe yes. At my current employer, they would make you take sick leave for that. If that's gone, leave without pay. 

The meeting with several higher-ups about the "incident" sounds scary. Is there anything else you've done that might indicate you're not meeting their performance expectations? Or that they might have an issue with your mental health (probably illegal but happens all the time)? It seems like a lot to ask for a meeting with several higher-ups, like it could be a warning of some sort. I've never heard of such a meeting that isn't a verbal warning or the beginning of a performance plan.

If you do get a performance improvement plan, you'll have to sign some stuff with goals, and if that happens, I would start applying to other jobs ASAP. If you do have a plan, you'll have a month or two to achieve the goals they specify, but that also means that they can't really fire you until the plan is over. So even if it looks like you're on the way out, you will have a few months to put something together. It will buy you a few months of salary and the time to set something up. 

Ugh. Here we go. I'm starting to look for openings. 

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1 hour ago, heilmania said:

Right?! I haven't missed any days. We just happened to be off this entire week. So it doesn't make sense that what I disclosed as a personal mental health matter that could, potentially, require treatment past our vacation week, but now doesn't, would merit needing a doctor's clearance. 

So, if I were you, I would go to work on Tuesday like usual. If she calls you out and says she needs a doctor's note, ask for two things: a) to see a copy of company policy (such as an employee manual) stating that policy and b) for the request with her reason in writing. Note explicitly to her that while you disclosed about a potential medical issue (not mental health, medical issue), you have not taken any unplanned/sick time, just used planned vacation days. 

Personally, I would disclose a lot less about the MI stuff, sounds like she is less comfortable with it than your old boss. 

Depending how things play out you want as much of this in writing as possible. You may well be an at-will worker but there are protections for medical health needs under ADA. Keep logs of phone conversations and your interpretations of what was said. Get everything in writing and keep copies not in your office. Stress that this is a medical issue. Even though you probably work for a company too small to qualify for FMLA you haven't used or asked for any leave. This stinks to me of prejudice. 

--

Do your best to keep your cool with her and the higher-ups in your meeting. It doesn't sound like they have enough to justify firing you. Point out that everyone makes mistakes, you stayed late to fix it, and that you have received no feedback that your performance has been a problem or on the decline. Ask for any policy statements in writing. If this is some kind of performance review, ask for a summary of the concerns and the changes they want from you in writing. Keep copies of these papers at home. 

I think your boss has not thought through what she's said to you. It's going to be a stressful week but I bet it will work out. 

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I can't remember exactly how it was worded, but one place I worked had a policy that they could require medical clearance if they had reason to believe that a medical condition could pose a risk to safety for yourself or co-workers. So, in theory, you could be required to provide a doctor's not even if you had not missed any work. This was a job that involved working outdoors in remote areas though, so it makes sense to be cautious. I'm not sure who/how they determined what those reasons could be, or what recourse one had if you did not feel you should be required to provide such clearance. 

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I just scoured the employee manual, and I don't see a thing about doctor's notes or mental illness, just that we, as an organization, are especially supportive of people experiencing chronic illnesses and make appropriate accommodations for them to be able to work. 

That sounds promising. 

But yes, I will be especially vigilant during whatever meetings I have with her or communications with her. I don't trust her as far as I can throw her. 

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9 hours ago, heilmania said:

I just scoured the employee manual, and I don't see a thing about doctor's notes or mental illness, just that we, as an organization, are especially supportive of people experiencing chronic illnesses and make appropriate accommodations for them to be able to work. 

Bring that with you to the meeting! 

I would think that you could just remain very matter-of-fact about your treatment. They only need to know the basics,that your chronic illness is under control with meds and that a med change did not go as planned and now your meds are in order.  

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1 hour ago, amskray said:

Bring that with you to the meeting! 

I would think that you could just remain very matter-of-fact about your treatment. They only need to know the basics,that your chronic illness is under control with meds and that a med change did not go as planned and now your meds are in order.  

Definitely. Thank you!

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I agree with the others about this meeting. Be vigilant. Document everything and ask for everything in writing. I hate to bring this up, but at my last place of employment they used meetings to lay the foundation when they wanted to fire someone. That way they could claim the person was fired for performance problems while being shielded from charges of discrimination. Be alert. This meeting is not for your benefit. 

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