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corporations vs FMLA vs pregnancy
Feb 27, 2006

Hello! This is is tough situation--but it seems that law may have it written clear and may not. I work or have recently worked for a larger western wear corporation. I was recently terminated from my job.

At the begging of my employment over one year ago...There was a woman that I worked with at the time that was pregnant. A few months went by and she took her maternity leave of 12 weeks and paid her regular payments for insurance monthly that are taken out of our checks and after 12 weeks returned back to work, no questions asked no one batted an eye. I currently live in Cody,Wyoming where all this has taken place. Our corporate headquarters are in Cheyenne.

The employee mentioned above had come back to work for about 3-4 weeks until she had found another job that paid better. At that time I permanently take her position as the full time associate at our store (which I had been working full time hours since i started).

I had found out about a month or so later that me and my husband were expecting. I stayed working at my job until I had become very sick and could not stay awake--I went to my DR. and come to find out I have Mono and I am less than 6 weeks away from delivery! I am ordered to go home and rest. Mono is not considered a serious condition but is so when you are pregnant and there being chances that I may not be able to uphold my duties of labor and delivery with the illness.

With all of this going on I discussed with my manager at my store of taking my maternity leave early. He agreed and called our corporate office to get payments set up for me to pay my health insurance premiums that normally come out of our checks. He was then informed that I was not going to get 12 weeks that they would allow me 6-8. I called the HR girl at our corporate office and explained that a previous employee had gotten 12 weeks and I find that I only want the same treatment, since that is what I knew. She replied that she would talk to the VP of HR to see what they have done in the past. I was called the next morning and told that if i could not come back to work ( I have a dr. excuse) that they would separate me from the company. If later i wanted to come back i would then have to reapply--and I was then told that the 12 week leave that the recent employee of our store got was by fluke/accident/and overlooked. At this point of being ill, due in six weeks and left high and dry with no health insurance raised my attention--is this legal?

Well from what i see no! But FMLA states that an employer must employ 50 people within a 75 miles in order for you to apply for the regular FMLA regulations. Well I am an eligible employee under all of the other circumstances--but this is just wrong!

Now our corporation has 97-100 stores throughout the west and moving eastward and they employ about 1000 employees. The store I dedicated my life to for over year employs about 8-10. We do have stores in close range but they avarage out to be 100-120 miles away. Wyoming is a rural state you don't travel down the road 75 miles and there is another town/city waiting for you as there are in some other states.

In my recent research I have discovered in some articles explaining FMLA that a corporation is to be considered a single employer and all of its divisions as one. So then how can they use the provision of 50 employees withing 75 miles into effect. They do, in one area, employ 50 within the given boundries--in cheyenne at headquarters. It really seems like a double standared and discrimination to all of its entities to me. Sort of contradicting the purpose of a corporation. So that makes only the people centralized in cheyenne to be covered and the rest of the 900 employees left in a boat with no paddles. Also in another article I read that if an employer doesn't inform their employees that they are not covered under FMLA that then they should automatically qualify in a situation such as mine--because they mislead. There were no phone calls or notifications that our recent employee's 12 week leave does not apply to us and was granted to her by accident. Now wouldn't that be failure of notification?

So I asked the HR personal--So you guys do not cover labor and deliveries in your health insurance? She says yes our insurance policy covers it. I said that is great that it will never get used by the employees that really worked hard for it and need it along with some job security (it is very hard to make a living in Wyoming even with a college degree). I was then told that I could work up to the day of my delivery and that day I left work would be my day of termination and last day of insurance--I replied women don't have babies the same day of their termination and if they do they are really lucky. There was no response on the other end.

So my question--is this really fair it doesn't seem like it. Is there anything illegal here. I have worked hard to get my insurance so that I don't receive an unsightly bill that I cannot pay at the end of my delivery. And if this is true and there is absolutely no way that they have to give me a 12 week leave with continued health insurance with my payments of my premiums on a unpaid leave--then has our government given corporations the ability to discriminate agianst women especially considering a man cannot have a baby? I live in the equality state but there seems to be nothing equal about it.

My husband would love to carry the insurance only he does not have the luxury--we are also active producers in the farming and ranching business. We do not make enough money to pay COBRA ($1200/mo) and we have applied for title 19 for my delivery and our baby--but that leaves us with nothing(and we are not guaranteed title 19 from the state). On top of I wouldn't have contracted Mono if i had been a housewife instead of employing my ability to the right to work and jeopordizing my pregnancy, labor and delivery for a corporation who can't even will me job security and health insurance to ensure the rights of human survival. It sounds like unfortunately the corporate executives of Corral West Ranchwear missed this part of FMLA: "The FMLA does not affect any other federal or state law which prohibits discrimination, nor supersede any state or local law which provides greater family or medical leave protection. Nor does it affect an employer's obligation to provide greater leave rights under a collective bargaining agreement or employment benefit plan. The FMLA also encourages employers to provide more generous leave rights."

What a bunch of under achievers I hope they don't expect anymore from their store associates which if it wasn't for them they couldn't make the money they get!

Response from Ms. Breuer

You have a legitimate concern, but it doesn't seem to be HIV-related. We only deal with questions on HIV infection at this site. Your store must have someone other than "the HR girl at our corporate office." The ball's in your court. Take up this issue with someone who is truly qualified to handle it.



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