Legalities requiring employment termination by letter

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Malcolm82, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. Malcolm82

    Malcolm82 New Member

    I'm just curious about something.

    I have CFIDS, diagnosed January 08 but have probably had it for 2 years or more according to my doctor and had to finally take a disability leave from my job in August 07 and have been unable to return yet. Returning was my main goal, only secondary to getting well again.

    In a previous post I explained how I was fired from my job of nearly 18 years because of my extended disability leave via a registered letter 4 days ago on a Saturday. I thought I had a very close personal relationship with the president of the company which developed after I was hired. I didn't know him previously. The general manager of the company (who is under the president in ranking and was who I got the termination letter from)and the vice president and secretary of the company (these two and the president are the only three stock holders and originators of the company) routinely leave the president out of important decisions before they are made. I originally thought that might be the case here, because I was absolutely sure that if the president knew that he would have called me to let me know ahead of time that I was going to receive the letter. If this had been done, my reaction would have been that I understood and I appreciate his letting me know. Instead I heard nothing until I got the letter. This is what really upset me after almost 18 years of giving them my all sometimes at great personal sacrifice to my family, that I didn't even rank the courtesy of a phone call letting me know I was going to receive that letter, lrt alone thanking me in any way for my years of service.

    I called the president yesterday and asked him if he knew about the letter before it was sent. He immediately went into a big "back pedal" saying that he protested to the other three but the general manager said he had talked to the lawyer and it wasn't "legal" for them to personally let me know. It had to be done in a letter, and he was "outvoted three to one". I can't imagine any reason why this can't be done face to face, and then a letter sent for confirmation and record keeping, like we do for any other termination. He also said that regardless of the letter his only concern was that I get well and come back to work. I was so mad by this time (I don't think I have been really truly purple with rage except in the past year plus with all but 2 of my doctors telling me "there is nothing wrong with you" until now)I told him that I was sure that someday I would be well enough to return to work, but it wasn't going to be there as long as that general manager was still in the company and that I was no longer the company's "problem", at which point I terminated the conversation. I'm not going to pursue this any further because my time needs to be spent getting on with my life and getting as well as I can be but I was just curious if anyone knew if there really was a legal reason why I couldn't have been called first.

    Thank you all for being there for me. I will try to reciprocate.

    [This Message was Edited on 08/05/2008]
  2. texangal81

    texangal81 New Member

    Did they tell you they were firing you because of your extended disability? I'm not a lawyer but I don't think they can do that. Even if you live in a right to work state, employers have to tread lightly when it comes to disability.

    As for the letter, that is a bunch of crap IMHO.
  3. kitteejo

    kitteejo Member

    They are all nothing but cowards. It is my understanding that they cannot terminate you while you are on a disability leave. They can eliminate your position so that when you are well enough to return you would not have a job. I don't know but I would talk to an attorney for advise. At least you could save your health-care and possibly get some cash from them.

    Best of luck to you,

  4. k5334

    k5334 New Member

    Before I had to quit work a 18 months ago due to FM, I was a Human Resource Director for over 10 years. Unless it's a weird state law I don't know about, it is never "illegal" to terminate someone in person. The proper way would have been to speak to you and confirm it in writing. I'm sorry you were treated this way. You were right when you said you need to concentrate on your health. Don't waste your energy with anger for them, use your energy to get better.
  5. Lichu3

    Lichu3 New Member

    so they don't tell people they're being let go or fired until day of and then they are escorted out by security. Especially true if the company fears employees will leak or sell company "secrets" -- e.g. tech fields. Have never had this happen to me but has happened to people I know.

    I'm not a lawyer but if you are seeking legal recourse around termination for medical disability, I would advise not contacting your former employers except through your attorney regardless of the anger, sadness, or prior relationship you had with these people.

    A good attorney can keep his/her cool and not let any statements by you get twisted by the opposition.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/05/2008]
  6. Malcolm82

    Malcolm82 New Member

    I am not contemplating any legal action because it is not worth my time, energy, or money. I need all these to get on with my life, but that business about leaving them legally liable for something if they told me first sounded like just an excuse for cowardice. I've let plenty of troublemakers and unproductive employees go face to face and I've never thought of doing it any other way. Now that I think about it, this is written up in the company procedure manual as the proper "employee termination procedure"!


  7. Malcolm82

    Malcolm82 New Member

    I have found that it is definitely not legal to terminate an employee due to being on disability.

    The way they got around that was by stating in the letter that it was due to my "extended absence". No mention of disability leave was made. Firing a person due to an extended absence
    is perfectly legal. I think the reason they did it with a letter is to make sure disability as a reason for termination wasn't accidentally mentioned by them in a conversation with me, because if it was and I had recorded the conversation (which is legal to do in New York State), then I would have grounds for legal repercussion.

    Just to cover all the bases, though, they further said I had exhausted my 12 weeks FMLA leave. I have since found out that FMLA leave doesn't legally start until your employer sends you a letter to notify you that it has started and the clock is running. I received no such letter.

    Well, it doesn't really matter anyway. It just really bugged me that they didn't call first.