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dealing with termination

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dealing with termination

Postby kimmyjo » Fri Sep 15, 2006 11:54 pm

Hello out there. I am new to this forum. I am trying to learn how to deal with the diagnosis of sleep apnea, being fired because of it (my boss said I didn't get my CPAP machine soon enough). I had the study and I go to the doctor next week. The technician put me on CPAP half-way through the night and said I definitely had sleep apnea. The problem was that I was so tired all of the time and my job required sitting for long periods of time in front of the computer transcribing. There would be times I just could not help it and I would nod off. I worked at the same place for 19 years and was terminated two weeks ago. Looking back at it, I feel I was discriminated against. I mean, I would have considered taking a leave of absence, perhaps a medical leave if you will, to try to get the situation under control and start regaining a little bit of self esteem and quality of life again. To make things worse my husband and I are separated and I can't count on him for child support each month on a regular basis or a regular amount, and I had to refinance the house just to be able to pay bills about one week before I lost my job. Now my mortgage payment is a lot higher, etc. and you all get the point. I am trying to raise two teenage boys also. I am just so stressed. My boss had told me a few months ago I just needed more sleep. I work at a hospital and it seems that no one understands sleep apnea and the devestation it can cause. Also, I guess I would have not felt so bad if I had been given the chance to retire with some dignity. A lot of people are telling me that I could get a lawyer and sue the hospital for what happened. Also, she had said that my appearance was not up to par and my sleep apnea brought down the morale of the whole department. I mean, I don't have the money to dress the best, but I never went in dirty, wore ragged clothes or anything, and I wore skirts and dressy blouses. I am overweight, however, and I don't know if that played a part in what she said. I would appreciate any advice from anyone out there. Thanks in advance.
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Postby painless » Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:27 am

kimmyjo,

If you have received treatment, and it is working, you might try going back and talking to them about a trial period. If your work was good when you left, you might get lucky with that, prove that it is working, and finish your time there.

If not, then you could consider talking to the Social Security, regarding the American Disabilities Act (I hope that is the correct one) and see if they might give you some counsel regarding trying to get it resolved. If not, you might not have good luck with it, but you could try a suit for discrimination and unlawful termination due to a medical condition, but its gonna cost you the lawyer fees, etc., so I'd try the other routes first.

I can feel for you on this one. 3-4 days AFTER I got my CPAP, while was still in a haze from getting sleep again, I was hit with a counselling form, due to sleep apnea.

Good luck

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Postby skyblue-pink » Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:42 am

Let me express my sympathy for your situation. You would think a hospital would be more understanding of employees with medical conditions than any other employer. But unfortunately, it seems often hospitals often tend to be less accommodating than other employers. I am a nurse and since being diagnosed, it has been a constant struggle with my employer to educate them about sleep apnea. "You should go to bed earlier'', "Just take some sleeping pills", Or "I don't see what the big deal is?" are common comments.
Based on what you have told us, I think you should probably consult with a lawyer. First of all, any reference to your appearance is discriminatory unless you came to work in grossly soiled or torn clothing or had extremely poor hygiene. Work is not a fashion show, and as long as you are wearing clean clothing that conforms to the employer's dress code and follow basic personal hygiene rules; your appearance, I believe, legally has no bearing on your job. And if your weight was even hinted as a reason for your dismissal then you definitely have a case under Americans with Disabilities (ADA) laws. And what the heck is this stuff about your appearance "bringing down the morale of the department"?
I was wondering how long before you were dismissed, did you have your sleep study? When are you supposed to receive your CPAP? Has your termination delayed your treatment?
You have a known, treatable medical condition affecting your job performance and you should, at the very least, been able to use the 12 weeks allowed under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to stabilize your condition. The fact you where not given the opportunity may also be a violation of the law. I think under ADA laws, you are entitled to "reasonable" accommodations related to a medical condition. It sounds alot like your employer didn't wish to be bothered and let you go to keep from having to deal with changes they might have been required to make.
Take heart that you are not alone. I pray you and your family will find relief soon and you will get the treatment for your apnea that you need. And please, consult a lawyer and find out what you can do about your job, check into unemployment , and last but not least, keep your chin up and never let jerks bring you down.
Last edited by skyblue-pink on Sat Sep 16, 2006 2:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Vicki » Sat Sep 16, 2006 4:49 am

Kimmy,

Had you and/or your sleep doctor formally informed your boss or HR department that you were being treated for a medical condition? If not, don't worry, it sounds that you made it clear to them what was going on. I think a lawyer is in order. But to get your ducks in a row, do you have the reason for your termination in writing? Don't let them know too much of what you are up to. I had a boss that treated me like garbage because I was sick. When I reminded him that it was illegal to use that against me, he changed it to "I didn't have leadership qualities". So don't let them go back and cover their rear end.

Let us know how you are doing!

Vicki
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Postby CrohnieToo » Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:08 am

Usually you can a free initial consultation w/an attorney. (Look for one who specializes in job discrimination, unjustified firings). If the attorney really believes you have a chance to win he should take your case on a contingency basis. If so, read the fine print carefully before signing. There often are some "hidden fees" where you end up having to put up some "up front money" despite the contingency facade. And make sure you know what "winnings" he takes his contingency fee from as well as the contingency fee %. Good luck and God bless!

Ooops. And try to talk to more than one attorney. Second opinions when dealing w/lawyers can be as valuable as getting a second opinion in the medical field!!
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dealing with termination

Postby kimmyjo » Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:18 am

First of all, thanks to everyone for all of the advice and sympathy. It really makes me know that I am not alone in this situation. I had my evaluation the last part of April and then a followup evaluation in early June. The period between April and June I tried everything my boss suggested; get more sleep, try to not be so stressed, get up and move around, etc, but that did not work. So, I told her I would get a sleep study as soon as possible. The first possible date was July 17th. I kept her aware of everything. My doctor went on vacation for three weeks, so I cannot see her until September 19th. My insurance runs out on teh 30th, so I am trying to put everything into high gear so I can get the help I need.
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Terminated for tardiness

Postby help23 » Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:59 am

6 months ago I was called into the office and was told if i was late again I would be terminated I said I am tired in the morning I have been employed there for 13 years but this last year I turned 41 and my wife said i would stop breathing so i went to my Dr and had a sleep study done and showed i had severe OSA so i
had surgry and it did help a lot but not a complete cure after 30 days i returned to work on medication for about a week and that next week i came in 15 minutes late and was fired as soon as i walked in the door so
I went to unemployment to file claim and my employer stated that they were unaware of my sleep apnea and the unemployment sided with my employer.so i get nothing and a bad recored for something i did everything in my power to help and i get the shaft.
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Postby Vicki » Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:15 am

Help23,

I am so sorry about your situation. Please get a CPAP and begin treatment for your OSA. Surgery is rarely a cure and you should have had a sleep study a few months after you had recovered to determine the status of your OSA. Improving your health and sleep will help you cope with everything else. Medication will not help you if you have OSA, you need to get your airway open using a CPAP.

Keep us posted!!

Vicki
Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.
Marilyn Vos Savant

That which does not kill you makes you stronger-Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich must of had apnea.
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Postby Vicki » Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:15 am

Help23,

I am so sorry about your situation. Please get a CPAP and begin treatment for your OSA. Surgery is rarely a cure and you should have had a sleep study a few months after you had recovered to determine the status of your OSA. Improving your health and sleep will help you cope with everything else. Medication will not help you if you have OSA, you need to get your airway open using a CPAP.

Keep us posted!!

Vicki
Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.
Marilyn Vos Savant

That which does not kill you makes you stronger-Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich must of had apnea.
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Postby Smokey » Sat Aug 25, 2007 8:26 am

I can tell you if you intend to go the legal route and you haven't all ready write down everything that has transpired
between you and your employer regarding your apnea and your discharge. Conversations, facts, cirmstances, warnings,
etc., anything. The slightest detail may make a difference. Document, document, document!
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Postby Will » Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:03 pm

While this is an old thread that has been resurrected, I guess what I would say that anyone who is in a precarious situation at work due to their sleep apnea or any other medical condition needs to communicate, communicate, communicate. In general people are more understanding if they know that something is going on, and that you're working on addressing it. A common theme you hear with sleep apnea sufferers is being perceived in the work place as lazy, unreliable (tardiness), and similar. Obviously being sleep deprived causes all sorts of problems, and while you'll run across people (managers and coworkers) that are jerks, on the whole people are going to be more understanding and sympathetic if they know what's going on and that you're working to get something done about it.
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Postby starbird » Sun Aug 26, 2007 11:17 am

At thevery least, you should contact the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and discuss with them, your case. I believe you have a discrimination case, based on what you have told us. Let them help you decide. If your employer has 50 employers or more, you would be intitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA. Based on your telling us that your boss said you did not get your machine soon enough, he's hung himself, in my opinion. It is the responsibility of the employer to recognize that an employee may need FMLA, and pursue it. A person can still be terminated during FMLA if there is a work-related reason (better be damned good!), so find out what you can.

My comments here are generalizations, but you have rights, and should follow up. (I am a human resource professional and have dealt with many issues related to EEOC an FMLA).

Good luck to you. :-)
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Dealing with termination

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 26, 2007 3:20 pm

kimmyjo, ditto all of the preceding. What kind of hospital were you employed by? If they received federal funds, your case will be much stronger. Try to find someone who is compassionate for your predicament. You need some straight talk along with counseling. I truly hope you have a case. Is there a "Legal Aide Society" in your area? The next best thing is a young attorney who is hungry ie "The Chamber". Don't hesitate to ask for help. Someone will be there for you. We can only listen and give you our sometimes educated and or uneducated opinions. I've been where you are as far as raising teenagers alone. What a roller coaster ride. BTW they all turned great. God bless and guide you. JuJu
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Postby Will » Sun Aug 26, 2007 6:48 pm

Not to be unsympathetic, but consider the other side - say you were a patient at a hospital and someone with untreated sleep apnea made a mistake that resulted in you or a family member being physical harmed or even killed. Depending on what type of patient data the original poster was transcribing, a paperwork error could be fatal. How fast would you be on the phone with a lawyer working up a lawsuit to sue the hospital for enough money to set up your great-great-great-great grandkids for life? In the American society, the hospital getting sued would practically be a given.

I assume the original poster is long gone since this thread is a year old, but before everyone jumps on the "sue your former employer" bandwagon, I think it is important to consider the entire situation.
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Postby justtrish » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:28 pm

You should get an attorney. The Americans with Disability Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and requires employers to make reasonable accomodations for their disabled employees. A disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (such as working), a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. You can definetely sue them for wrongful termination, get your reimbursed for attorney's fees and be reinstated.

A hospital, of all places, should know better.

Good luck to you

Hugs

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