|Fired from my job of 13 years
Dec 12, 1997
September 18th 1997 I was fired from my job after 13 years with this company for
absenteism. I was diagnost HIV positive some 11 years ago and have been asymtomatic since. I am not on any medications. However, I had not taken a pro-active role until about 2 years ago. That's when things became even tougher for me emotionally as it brought me closer to the problem and dealing with it.
I had taken time off from work because of the emotional problems and made my employer aware of this and that it was related to the HIV. There had been alot of staff changes going on in the mean time so whenever I was troubled and needed to take time off I had to give the infomation and reason to someone else. I must have had to tell at least seven different people over the course of the past two years. About six months ago they brought in a human resource person to the office as we did not have one locally. On previous occassions I had to talk to someone on the phone in another state. I had not gone to the manager of the office out of fear. I did what I thought was the right thing by telling her.
I asked her if I could meet with her. I did not expect to be counseled about the time I had been out previously. I would have thought that would be done at some other time do to the nature of my problem. About two weeks later I was called into a meeting with her and the manager at which time they wanted me to sign a form that basically states I was being given a written warning. I looked it over. Asked the manager if I could talk to the human resource person alone because he had not been told about my HIV status. I then asked why I was getting a written notice when I had made it clear the reason I had been taking time off from work.
I became very confused and upset about the whole thing. I was so out of it at that point that I asked to go home. I could not stop crying it seemed for days.
I had three weeks vacation so I took them hoping to get myself back together but it wasn't enough so I requested FMLA. Sought help from my drs office which
didn't help. The letter the social worker sent back to my employer stated,
On July 14, 1997, he was assessed and referred for treatment of anxiety and depressive symptoms associated with a current medical condition. At this time,
Mr._____ has decided to not begin the recommended treatment plan and did not indicate what treatment he planed to pursue. Therfore we cannot support the FMLA. FMLA is the Famly leave act. I did return to work around the 18th of August because of a letter I received from my employer stating that.
I was on pins and needles for the month as I was being told basically that I was not out of the woods yet. Then on September 18th I was given notice that I was fired. I applied for unemployment benefits and was denied.
I have not sought an attorney but felt that mabe I should. Before I'd like some feed back as to weather or not I should.
Response from Ms. Breuer
Your case presents several complex legal issues and you should contact an employment discrimination attorney immediately to ensure that you comply with all procedural and time requirements for preserving your legal rights relating to this situation. You should ask the lawyer about your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, your employer is prevented from discharging you becuase of your disability, provided you could perform the essential functions of the job. Under the Family Medical Leave Act an employee with at least a year of senority is entilted to 3 monoths of unpaid leave during a calendar year for a family medical event. If the event is legitimate the employer cannot terminiate the employee during those three months (or in your case reprimand you for missing work). You should ask your attorney about whether FMLA applied in your case. Lastly, you should ask your attorney about state worngful termination laws. Many states prevent employers from wrongfully discharging employees for no legitmate reason.
-- David Grunwald
Teaching and HIV
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