I have attendance issues and have FMLA. I don't know what I can do.

I have been sick with different illnesses related to my current serious health diagnosis. I applied for and was approved for FMLA.

Prior to this, I have had difficulties at work. One minute it was my work performance which I corrected, it wasn't a significant problem and more due to not knowing I was making mistakes. This was only addressed as me having an issue, no mention of improvement on my part. It's not come up again however I do get emails that make me feel defensive questioning my work, so far I have not been in the wrong but it's made me worried and the emails themselves make me uncomfortable because I am always worried how to answer them.

I also had some slight latenesses due to the poor MTA system and issues involved, the latenesses were less than 5 minutes in most instances and close to 1 and 2 minutes for almost all but a few. I have left earlier on days with delays, done all I can to correct it and now arrive to work 20- 30 minutes early deliberately to avoid delays.

I have filed a grievance regarding the inflexibility since it's well documented in the news that the MTA is delayed and having major issues on a daily basis and that no mention is made of any improvements. It was denied as me proving the MTA was late but not why I was late and that no union rules were broken therefore it stands with my employer. I filed an appeal with HR and my manager wants to be there as well. It's been delayed numerous times now.

I applied for FMLA as soon as I knew my condition was serious and was the cause of my absences. I did this at the suggestion of my manager, the union and HR. I applied on June 12. On June 30 I received my review to sign and it notes attendance issues. I agreed to improve my attendance. I took FMLA time for a flareup and when I returned I got the cold shoulder from everyone. I am considering not taking more time now.

If I am in trouble for attendance wouldn't this affect my job? Am I doing anything wrong? I am addressing everything but it's not enough.

I worry she wants to fire me and I don't know if she actually will or can or even if I have done anything really wrong. She has told me she doesn't believe me related to other things over the past year. It's shocking to me because I don't lie and I have even owned mistakes I've made. No employer has ever accused me of being a liar before and I don't know how to handle it. It been brought up in the grievance as well but she doesn't think we have an issue to address in that regard.

What am I doing wrong?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 13, 2017 3:59 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

V Jonas Urba
It sounds like you may be a union member. If that's true your union should help you comply with FMLA or intermittent FMLA leave. The employer must treat you the same way they treat any other employee. FMLA gives you no more flexibility for tardiness than any other employee. For example, if employees who are on notice of being tardy continue being tardy and after X notices lose their jobs then the same standard will apply to you. Read your doctor's note carefully. It probably does not say that your condition permits you to report whenever you get there. Regardless of the terrible MTA (we all get that - it's awful but no excuse).

If your supervisor believes that you were tardy before you took FMLA, that your tardiness was not because of your illness unless your doctor wrote that your tardiness was because of your illness, and that is unlikely to change then they may discipline you further with or without FMLA.

You pay union dues. Union advice or counsel should be free and part of your dues. Ask them and see if you are comfortable with their response.

A labor and employment lawyer will need to review your collective bargaining agreement and obtain a full history of your particular illness, your performance evaluations before the FMLA, your raises or promotions, etc... It's a big job and many of us will charge you for that type of consultation or evaluation.

You have to decide what this job means to you and whether you can find another one easily if you lose this one. A union will treat you like any other member. FMLA does not give you a pass to be late so if everyone is treated the same for tardiness you could lose your job even if on FMLA for being late.

Another option would be to take your FMLA all in one lump period and then always be on time when you return.

I have seen employees lose their jobs after they return from FMLA for reasons that have nothing to do with medical leave. Being late would be one of those reasons. Decide what this job is worth to you and then proceed accordingly. Best. Jonas

posted by V Jonas Urba  |  Aug 13, 2017 5:02 PM [EST]

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