Extend me, Keep me, and dont get rid of me!
Dec 21, 2001
I have been HIV+ since April 1st, 2000. No April Fools! Since then and more recently since September of 2001, I have started to have serious bouts of side effects, which have basically encapsulated my daily work and life routine. On top of this, I am a gay Dad who gets his kids 13 weeks out of the summer and then just when I get use to having them, pouFF!! They are on a plane back to mom in another state for 9 months. This year my daughter also changed in a big way and was not my baby anymore but a chum as she puts it. Whew this freaked me out and I had serious issues with not being there for them, not attending all those life happing functions and basically protecting them from all that I could but cant.
The side effects I have experienced since July of 2001 have caused serious episodes of incapacities at work and are as follows; Headaches, Neuropathy, Viral Infections (3), Nausea, Stress, Anxiety, Depression and serious Fatigue since the kids left and September 11th (911). Most recently Bacterial Diarrhea has hit and Im now on my way to a Specialist in Gastroenterology to save me. So I bet youre asking yourself, whats his question?
Back in August of 2001 I went to my boss and basically had to reveal my HIV status because of pressure she was getting from upper management and the VP. All due to my immense absenteeism record. With her help, she assisted me and placed me on intermittent FMLA. I basically handed her a doctors note stating that I had a serious chronic illness and that was that. Due to all the above symptoms and my 4week Depression Vacation from work, I have basically hit bottom on my 12 weeks of FMLA/Medical and certainly have not been following any intermittent schedule. She now says she cannot manage this and conveniently informs me that my company is downsizing and my job is seriously being looked at because I have no net worth due to my frequent absences and obvious lack in productivity for the company. At the same time I updated her with a formal FMLA form (calling it updated), a form stating I can perform my job without any restrictions (per my doctor) and lastly that I have no intention of leaving my position. (Got scared!)
My doctor now put me on another 2weeks off due to the Bacterial Diarrhea and at the same time I am going to seek further counseling from my Psychologist, Neurologist, Nutritionist, new Infectious Disease Doctor and my Attorney of course. I am also going to file an ADA request for a Reasonable Accommodation to allow me to work at home a couple days incase of limitations not allowing me to drive and also to alleviate stress, anxiety and allow flex-time for future medical appointments, treatments and counseling. Also, I will note the need for additional unpaid Medical Leave if necessary. I will lastly include articles supporting side effects and that I intend to fulfill all of my essential functions of my job during this time. This will of course be documented by a doctor as I have done with everything. I want to mention also that I invested over 500.00 in upgrading all my computer hardware to allow me access and I have no problem signing the companies Tele-Commuting Agreement form holding me to my job requirements when at home. The funny thing is, my manager has already handed me in the past work to do at home.
So, what can I do to keep my job if I run out of 12 weeks of FMLA/Medical and how does all this sound? If they plan to still kick me in the you know what due to downsizing, I want to be prepared to kick them back! Thanks a bunch and look forward to your reply.
Extend me, Keep me, and dont get rid of me!
Response from Ms. Breuer
There are so many questions in your question that all I can do is pose some back to you, to help you sort this out. 1. Which is more important to you: keeping your job or restoring your health? 2. Would an objective observer decide that you are indeed capable of fulfilling all of the essential functions of your job? That you are indeed fulfilling them now? 3. Are you working with your psychologist to help you sort out the job-related, side-effects-related and family-related issues and decide on a plan to manage them one by one, or in reasonable bites? Your attention seems very fractured right now, and it's hard to formulate a plan under those conditions. 4. Does your employer have a long term disability plan? Is there some reason you haven't taken advantage of it to sort out the side effects and your health in general? It's far better to go out on LTD leave than it is to be downsized. 5. You clearly have a big heart and want to take on the world for yourself and your kids, but what is the priority of each item you're trying to tackle right now? HIV is being mean to you, and preventing you from doing any of the other stuff--at least, it looks that way from here.
You deserve and your kids deserve for you to get through this and live at the highest level of health you can attain. I urge you to start there.
Please remember that the ADA and FMLA are designed and intended to help retain the job of a personal who is fully capable of fulfilling the essential functions of the job. Once that is no longer true, there is no legal platform for an HIV-positive person who wants to sue to keep a job that isn't getting done. You're in choppy waters right now, and need a step by step plan that involves your therapist, your doc and your employer. A lawyer isn't going to help much at this point.
Please take care of yourself!
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