Do I tell work about FM and CFS?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by DazedAndSpacey, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. DazedAndSpacey

    DazedAndSpacey New Member

    OK, here's the thing...we've gone through a BUNCH of layoffs. And although the future looks bright again for our company, it's still a worry they may do more layoffs. I've spoken with my father (who's a lawyer) who told me under no circumstances should I tell my boss I have Fibro. Even though they shouldn't hold it against me, they can look for other reasons to get rid of me.

    The problem is my CFS has gotten so bad I've had to leave work early a couple of days this week. I have plenty of sick time, but I know my manager is concerned because I'm so tired. So much so I'm so I can't think clearly.

    I feel like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. My pain is bad, mind you, but my manager knows I have arthritis in my neck and back, so he expects pain from me. Plus, the ultram helps right now if the pain gets too bad. But the spaciness and exhaustion I know will catch up with me. I can't be in my job and space out all the time.

    Please tell me how your experience has been if you've told your boss. And let me know your thoughts on whether I should fess up?
  2. tig519

    tig519 Member

    Here's the two edge sword. You may be covered by FMLA- as a chronic condition, which would allow you up to a certain # of hours per year of excused time off (not paid, but excused). The total is 12 weeks and those hours are able to be broken down by the hour, so it includes leaving early. Key part of this is your employer can't ask what the chronic condition is. HIPPA laws and everything.

    The flip side is that your employer needs to make reasonable accommodations for an FMLA leave. The word reasonable is the key. If your job can't allow for 12 weeks off, then asking for it can be considered unreasonable and your employer and you can part ways.

    I had one employee who had a doctor write a note stating their child had a condition that required home schooling and she could only work 6am-2pm. (guess the home schooling needed to take place at night?). Our plant is a 24hr operation with rotation of shifts. This would mean an exception that would cause some pretty big issues for other employees. The ironic part is our rotation ends up working in such a way (due to employees who like to stay on 2nd and 3rd shift) with those needing to rotate only having to do it for 2 months out of 14 months. Legally, we do not have to make this accommodation as the alternative is not unreasonable... working 2 months out of the year on 2nd or 3rd shift.

    Another situation was someone who needed to go for physical therapy by leaving at 3pm, 3 days a week. Employee wanted to start earlier those days to not lose $$. Easy accommodation to make.

    You get the idea... If you believe filing for FMLA and being approved (generally happens through your HR or Benefits department, not your supervisor) and the accommodations you may need to ask for are reasonable, I would do it. BTW, just because you file for FMLA, doesn't mean that you will ever take advantage of it. I have some employees that have shared with me that they filed FMLA due to their Asthma. When their asthma is really bad, they will call in and reference FMLA, but they miss maybe 2 days a year. You do have to file for FMLA each year.

    Hope that helps
  3. lukro

    lukro Member

    I did and it was a mistake, and I'm in a company that supposedly values the underdogs.

    I am now imaged as a sick person who is not a team-player and cannot pull their own weight.

    Telling my boss was a huge mistake. If I could do it over, I would not tell anyone at work about my ailments (even though the disabilities people are pretty good).
  4. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    At first I did not say anything as I was still in the process of getting diagnosed and had no idea that my health would take a nosedive.

    As someone mentioned it is a double edged sword. When I started having problems even before I was completely aware of them, for the first time in 25 years of stellar evaluations I was written up. Then when it got worse and had to take several ten days absences with the FMLA and a doctor's note, they did everything they could to get rid of me. This was a horrific experience. I was sick and I was made to feel guilty. Better said, they tried to make me feel guilty and when you are sick you are more vulnerable.

    I just wished I had resigned sooner. It was not fair to my health, my co teacher who was trying to take up the slack as well as the students. Fortunately, we had a great sub who worked in our school and she was able to take over when I had to stay home and after I left. I tried half time and lasted two weeks.

    So I guess it depends on what type of work you do, what kind of co workers and bosses you have, etc.. I was shocked in many ways to see how my boss, made it a more difficult process as I was getting blamed for things my co workers did. She spread which were exaggerated only half truths, if even that. Right before I quit the other teachers helped me make a complaint to administration about her but I left before it was even started. and was too tired to do anything about it. They followed up on it, but that is a another story. BR>

    It is not an easy decision.

    Good luck.


    [This Message was Edited on 11/15/2009]
  5. jasminetee

    jasminetee Member

    I agree with what everyone says here. I wouldn't tell them until you have to. If you start to feel like you can't keep up then you have to.

  6. id say dont tell.

    anyone knowing, isnt going to do you any favours believe me.i told at work after a sick note gave me away,and now im fearing what might happen to me.finger pointing isnt nice.

    take care,fran.
  7. steach

    steach Member

    I worked for the State of Ohio, teaching in a correctional institution. I was dx after being hired. When I started to feel really badly, I HAD to use FMLA time; however, there are stipulations to using FMLA.
    1.The company must have 50 or more employees
    2.You are eligible for 12 weeks or 40 hours of leave time which is unpaid
    A.The leave can be taken all at one time or broken into intermittent time(as needed)
    3.Employers can use FMLA time is three different ways:
    A.Annual calendar (Jan. to Jan.) b.Fiscal year or C. Rolling calendar(ex. Nov. to Nov.)
    4.You need documentation from your doctor stating "INTERMITTENT TIME" IS NEEDED- this way, you can leave when you need to do so. This has to be up-dated every 6 or 8 weeks. You go to the HR office to get the forms, take them to your doctor, then to work.

    *With intermittent time, you just complete a leave form and you are able to leave on-the-spot- the supervisor has to approve it- no questions asked.

    With the lay-offs, I'm sure the company is required to employ people who have disabilities, as well as, any other minority. This just might save your job.

    You are able to request "reasonable accommodations" for your job if you are having so much pain. It is even possible to change your schedule.

    At first, I was denied "reasonable accommodations" at work and then I wrote letters to everybody in the state. My employer had a state hearing with their panel of lawyers and they advised my employer they were wrongly denying me of my Federal rights under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which was signed by President Clinton. Needless to say, the institution was #issed-off and tried to make things difficult; I documented everything. At each occurance, I filed an EEO with the state. That got the institution's attention to leave me alone. I fought one #ell of a battle -not only for myself, but for others like me, too.

    One thing to remember, your employer may have a policy about using sick leave- after using so much of it -or- if you have less than a specific balance, they may put you on a physician's verification.

    It comes down to this: if you are afraid of losing your job or being reprimanded because of using sick time- file the paperwork for FMLA. FMLA is available to help you KEEP your job!

    You can research FMLA on the internet and get more specifics and examples; it is under Title?? under employment. For me, FMLA was a life-saver and well worth any hassle that I had to go through. I think it is standardly accepted these days.

    Let us know how things go.

  8. wendysj

    wendysj New Member

    Hi DazedandSpacey,

    When I first got sick with CFS, I tried desprately to work. I knew I needed the salary but the health insurance was the most important (Type 1 Diabetes). I went to work everyday but left in tears because I just couldn't make it. I had to take short term disability with the FMLA.

    After I returned to work, I was laid off with a large group of others. I was devestated at the time but it lead to me getting a better job...

    My job that I currently have I worked in a small office. I had an angel in disguise as a boss who made it possible for me to work as long as I have.

    I would be very careful who you talk to... There is a LOT of misinformation out there and some people may not understand what you're going though.

    If you have a friend at work to talk to I think that would help. Having a very trusted person who knows how hard you're trying and can give you a "Atta Girl" and "Hang in there" when you need it most is very helpful.

  9. nah.stacey

    nah.stacey Member

    Do NOT tell them until more results come in from the CDC hearing or you get tooo sick to hide it any longer.

    Most are correct in that they will treat you as if you are too sick to pull your weight.

    It's not that they generally don't care, it's just BUSINESS. When it comes time to throw someone under the bus, you can probably bet the tire treads will be on your back. It's all office politics.

    My husband is a supervisor over 65-70 people and he tells me what employers in general think of someone who is chronically ill. When layoff time comes, if they can do it without HR ramifications, they will let the sick one go.

    By the way, my husband is one of the most fair-minded bosses one could ever wish for and due to my illness is very aware of what happens to those who are sick. However, when the chips are down, sometimes the choice is taken out of their hands.
    [This Message was Edited on 11/17/2009]
  10. quanked

    quanked Member

    on this board I would never tell my employer if I was employed. There are people who are ostrasized from their families for CFIDS, mistreated by medical providers and have been labled with some nasty stuff. Heck, our own friends and family (most) do not get this disease. I do not understand this disease. I only know that I cannot function a great deal of the time and it gets in the way of ever having a job. Right now I feel like crying because I feel so bad. But I look okay, for the most part. Who gets this?

    If you have a job and think that you can manage it with some adjustments and help, and qualify for FMLA then go for it. Just do not set yourself up to be attacked. There is always the chance that you have a one in a million boss but you have to ask yourself is it worth the risk? If you have CFIDS I would think that you do not need anymore challenges than you already have.

    Someone posted a bully website on your thread here--and while your boss may not be a bully--the site lays out how the system often works fairly well. It is a good reminder to not be naive.

    Good luck.
  11. tgeewiz

    tgeewiz Member

    I have gotten to the point that I never say that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. People just have no idea what that is and for the most part think you have "Chronic Lazy Syndrome" or "All in your head" syndrome.

    I refer to it as Fibro since Dr. Paul St. Amand believes that they are the same disease.

    As for telling your boss, that would depend on what type of relationship you have with him/her.

  12. DoveL

    DoveL Member

    Hey Dazed and Spacey.

    My advice would be DONT tell your employer about your illness. You know how that goes; they cannot 'legally' lay you off or fire you for that; but they just may do that anyway!! If you have plenty of sick days then take them. Your personal business is really none of your employers business! If they keep questioning you; just say you have some 'personal issues' you are dealing with and need time off.

    If you get laid off you can always get unemployement, or go on disability. I know it is not alot of money. Take it from me; I was working part time; and got laid off 6 months ago, and it is rough looking for a job due to the horrible economy!! So I would not 'rock the boat' by telling them you have a disability!

    Good luck, hang in there, and feel better!


  13. DazedAndSpacey

    DazedAndSpacey New Member

    I already knew the answer, but sometimes it's better to hear it from others who suffer from the same condition as me.

    Although it's great advice about the FMLA, I still hesitate about doing it. I actually work for a HUGE company that has managed to turn a profit in this tough economy. So the layoffs were really hard to watch and wait through (stress triggered a lot of symptoms). I've actually been layed off from the company 3 times in 20 years due to the changes in the business. IE job relocating to another state, an outside partner, etc. I always landed on my feet and found something else. Because of that, I worry that FMLA on my record would prevent me from finding something else. It's so competitive for internal jobs.

    I do have over 2 weeks of sick time accrued, so my thought is if I have a bad day and it's slow, I'll just take off. My boss is really cool, but he's too honest for his own good. =)

    Thank you all so much! I need to sit down and read through everything again! A lot of great advice.