Intermittent FMLA Question

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by nina_and_me, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. nina_and_me

    nina_and_me New Member

    I have a question aboutIntermittent FMLA and my boss that I'm hoping someone can help me with. I take off from time to time due to flare ups of fibro. Sometimes, it's a day or two, occassionally, it's a week to 10 days. The first year that I was on FMLA, I missed 223 hours - about 5 1/2 weeks for the year. The second year - 147 hours - almost 4 weeks for the year.

    I have been on Int. FMLA for a little over two years. In that time, I've had four bosses - same department - just high overturn of department directors. The first three did not say anything to me when I had to be out of work due to FMLA related illness.

    The one I have now started in January and I missed two days in February due to the stomach flu, which was non-FMLA related - he didn't talk to me for two days, but he sent me an e-mail saying that I'd put him in a bind and he asked for copies of the keys to my desk. I understood a little - he was new, I was out after a holiday weekend, and maybe he thought I was prone to do this.

    The second instance of absence lasted 10 days, and part of the reason for the length of that absence was my fear of returning to work. I called him every day that I was out with updates on my condition - he wasn't happy. When I returned, he once again didn't talk to me unless absolutely necessary. I went into his office at the end of the first day of my return and I told him that I understood that he was not happy about my absence but that I couldn't help it.

    I'd already told him that I was on FMLA, but I reiterated that. He told me that he wasn't "unhappy" - he just wanted to do what was best for the dept and I asked him if my job was in jeopardy. He said that if the absences continued, it might be - he said he had to think about what was best for the dept.

    I never schedule vacation time because I know that I'm going to have to use that time for illness - the problem is that my absences are unpredictable. There are days when I just can't come in. He said he didn't know if that would "work for him".

    Last year, I forced myself to come in one morning, and I was stopped by a state trooper because I was driving 30 mph in the fast lane on a highway. He said his lights were on for a mile before I pulled over. I looked at him and really didn't understand. He asked me if I was sleepy and I said no. He saw my name badge, and I think he gave me a break because he saw where I work. He told me to stay out of the left lane unless I was passing and let me go.

    Since that incident, I realized what could have happend and I've been more cautious about driving on just a couple of hours of sleep. If I was not sure about my ability to drive, I erred on the side of caution and stayed home. I looked into taking a cab, but the cost of a cab is more than I make in a day - I live about 20 miles from work.

    The next day, a friend called - he works in upper management in another company, and I told him what happened. He called someone in his HR dept and called me back and told me that I needed to call HR and report this. I told him that I was scared of my boss. He told me that it didn't matter - that HR needed to know. He told me what to say, I wrote it down and called the lady who administers FMLA.

    I told her the story, she looked at my time record and said I hadn't come close to the 12-week FMLA max. She said that she would speak to him. I told her that I was scared he would be mad, but she had to do it.

    He's been overly nice lately, but I can tell he doesn't want me here. He's sent e-mails telling me that he needs things done by the end of the day, knowing I can't do it without working OT. I have applied for an internal transfer, but nothing has happened so far. I'm worried sick he'll find another reason to let me go. I overheard him making remarks about my call to HR and it wasn't nice. I don't know what to do. I don't want to go back to HR because I am afraid it will make things worse, but I don't know how much longer I can work for him. I'm afraid to try for a job outside of the organization because if I do, I'll have to wait a year before I'm eligible for FMLA and I think I'd be fired for attendance problems without FMLA protection. I live in a state where employment is "at will" meaning the company can let me go without any reason.

    Has anyone else ever had this problem? Does anyone have suggestions on what I can do about this?

    Thanks.
    nina & me
  2. nina_and_me

    nina_and_me New Member

    Thanks for the support.

    I think he knows now that he has to comply with FMLA guidelines because he's been overly nice to me since the person in HR talked to him. The problem is that he's been a director for over 20 years at another company, and he's used to getting what he wants. He's very persistent and won't give up until he gets what he wants.

    I'm really glad he's using a vacation day today because I couldn't sleep last night, and about two hours ago, the lack of sleep and full week of work caught up with me - I'm exhausted.

    I usually fall right to sleep on Fridays when I get home and sleep well into Saturday. The weeks start out well when I'm not in a flare, and deteriorate so that by Friday, the only thing that can get me to work is knowing that I won't have to come back the next day.

    It is my responsibility to care for myself, and if that means calling in sick because I got two hours of sleep and have already worked 40 hours before Friday started, that's what I need to do. That's what happened today. I'd already worked 40 hours before I walked in this morning, and I barely slept.

    My boss is a large, intimidating man, and he's only here to do what he thinks is best for the department and a fatigued secretary who has pain and misses a lot of work doesn't fit his mold. He's good at what he does in many ways, but, yes, he is a jerk.

    That said, HR has made it clear that as long as I don't miss moe than 12 weeks of work, he's got to deal with it. I'm sure he's been in a situation like this before, and maybe he'll find a way around it. If so, I've already started documenting EVERYTHING.

    My best friend works in an HR department several hundred miles away and she told me the night this started to write down everything I remembered. Now, I carry a notebook in my pocket or purse and write down everything. I print e-mails and bring them home.

    The hypotethical questions to HR are a good idea. Thus far, I've been afraid to say anything more than I said the first day because I am afraid he'll become even angrier than he is now. When I spoke with my other friend, he told me to use the word disability as much as possible when speaking to HR, to make copies of my last thre evals, which were all superb, and ask HR what dept could work with this. That set them in motion and his conversation with HR lasted over an hour and half. I left at 5:30, and he'd been locked in his office with HR for 90 minutes.

    I often do the "look busy" thing too when I'm not really up to working, but since I returned from that 10 day absence, my boss has me recording a minute by minute account of my day. I type these posts on breaks and after hours. Unfortunately, on days like today, I spaced out three times for periods of over half an hour and I really don't know what I did. I've got to fill in the blanks before I leave. I've clocked out, so maybe I can do some work that I can fill in.

    I've got to go home - I need to take some pain medication and I can tell I'm going to be asleep before the sun sets. I talked to a friend on the phone about 20 minutes ago and I kept saying "what?" because I'm so tired I can't comprehend what he's saying. I just need to go home, but I've got to fill in these blanks where I know I worked but I don't know what I did.

    I love your screen name - I love dogs. They are the most beautiful creatures on this planet. I have one of the best dogs in the world who is waiting for me to come home, and I loved (and still love) another before I lost her to CHF when she was 13 1/2.

    Thank you again for your supportive words.

    nina