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My husband was terminated from his job - any advice

Ann G
Posts: 8
Joined: Jun 2010

HI Everyone,

My husband was just terminated from his job. The company where he had worked as a manager doing stand-up training and had to travel for the position, said if he could not be back at the office by June 1st then he would be terminated. They said they had fulfilled their obligations under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of holding a job for 3 months and didn't need to hold it any longer. They hired a contract worker to do his job for the past two months and they confided in me that they liked the woman a lot and wanted to hire her. She told them that if she did not get hired by June 1st she would start looking for a new job. They didn't want to lose her.

Has anyone had any experience with this? Doesn't the American for Disabilities Act (ADA) protect people with cancer.

He is on long-term disability so money in the short-term is not the problem. It is still very upseting. Hopefully he will feel better at some point and want to work. The company did not give him any severance and said he is not eligible for unemployment even when he starts feeling better. He was approved by the insurance company for long-term disability for up to 2 years.

He was diagnosed on January 6th and has been out of work for about 5 months. There is no way he could go back to work. He is totally exhausted, has a feeding tube, and barely goes out of the house.

Our neigbor is a lawyer and tried to negotiate with them. The only thing they would consider would be giving my husband an extra month before needing to come back to work. They wanted us to have the Doctor sign a note that he would be back on July 1st. I said I could not be certain when he would feel ready to come back. It's difficult to tell right now.

We live in NYC. It's very upsetting since my husband has been through a lot and now this.

Please let me know if you have had a similar experience and how you handled it.

Thank you.

Ann G

denistd's picture
Posts: 578
Joined: Apr 2009

OK lets see if we can work through this. I am a retired director of human resources that acted as a witness to congress for the FMLA in 1993 and 1994. I have over 20 years as a senior HR person. FMLA states that the "employee on leave must be returned to his/her position or one similar to it at the same rate of pay and benefits that were in place immediately before the leave" When the leave time is up that assurance goes away, although there is language that says leave should continue if the employee cannot return to work because the reason for original leave still exists. However all guarantees are forsaken at that point. To fire somebody for that reason is extremely risky and very cruel and I always made sure the leave was extended for employees of the firm I worked for. The ADA requires that a qualified employee must be reasonably accomodated to do the job, if they are qualified. Is cancer classified as a "disability"? depends on what the level of disability is. I had laryngeal cancer and do not regard myself as disabled. I don't think the ADA comes into play here. The company does not decide whether you get unemployment or not, that is up to the department of labor and industry of the state you live and work in. Even if you are getting LTD for two years you are certainly entitled to unemployment as your employer was the decision maker in whether you work or not. My opinion is you would get the unemployment compensation, your employer may contest it, but he would lose and rightly so. I would go talk to a labor lawyer on your husbands firing because thats what they did, THEY FIRED HIM FOR GETTING SICK, thats what I would do, get a lawyers perspective on it, but unemployment eligibility, absolutely. AS an aside. If your husband is indeed disabled you should apply for social security disability and medicaid. It takes two years for a person to qualify for SSD from the time of application, so check that out as well, good luck and God bless. Denis

Ann G
Posts: 8
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Denis,

My husband isn't feeling well right now. Once he gets his strengh back, I will certaintly speak to a lawyer.

Thank you.

Ann G

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

Hi Dennis, I was approved immediately for SSD and Medicaid, I had to wait 6 months before receiving my first disability check. From what I have read on the Social Security website Head and Neck cancers are considered a compassionate allowance which means they are approved immediately. I also have lung cancer which may have helped push my application along.

My best to everyone - Glenna

Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2010


I sympathize with you and your husband. I took 6 months of short-term disability (full pay and benefits)
when I first was diagnosed and underwent similar treatment. They were about to put me on long-term
disability (LTD) after that, in which case they would terminate me, but I returned to work. I showed up
every day, as required, for 2 months but was pretty ineffective as I was too tired from the radiation.
Just as I was feeling better, my doctors decided I needed neck dissection surgery... so I took a month
of saved vacation time to cover my absence. Unfortunately, the surgery revealed more cancer and my
doctors decided I needed even more radiation. At this point I could no longer avoid LTD and my
employer terminated me the same day that LTD began; I consulted a lawyer and she advised me on
how best to protect myself - the ADA requires your employer to provide a reasonable accommodation
for a medical leave... but "reasonable" here means they do not have to hold the job open indefinitely;
you must give them a specific date by which you will return to work (and that date cannot be too far
in the future). I gave them such a date and, when my second radiation/recovery period was over,
I requested my job back... they offered me my job back, and I accepted, but then I had a recurrence
and withdrew my acceptance. Now I figure I'm on LTD indefinitely and money-be-damned... I'm
just hoping I'm still alive a year from now.

From what I've read of your situation, your employer is within their rights. They've offered you an
extra month as a reasonable accommodation... its up to you to decide whether to take it. His fatigue
will eventually lift... I know mine did... but it varies from one individual to another. In my opinion,
it helps if he started out in good physical condition and (even if he didn't) it helps if he pushes
himself to exercise... simply walking for 15 minutes/day is a good start.

If you have your doctor write a note saying he can return to work in a month, then your insurance
company can kick him off LTD benefits... but he can get his job back. Unfortunately, his employer
is now predisposed to dislike him and a few months of poor performance (due to continuing
fatigue) won't help. Its possible they'll find some other reason to terminate him six months
after his return; in that case he's out hunting for a job anyway, but has no income at all.

If you just stay with your LTD benefits, he should start looking for a new job ASAP. Eventually
the insurance company will tire of paying LTD benefits and decide that he is able to work. You
need to get out ahead of that and get a new job before the insurance company makes noises
about stopping benefits.

Most LTD policies have a clause intended to encourage people to return to work. Such a clause
says they'll pay partial (pro-rated) LTD benefits if you can return to work on a part-time basis.
I had planned to do this with my employer. In fact, the position they offered me was half-time
with the understanding that this would become full-time after 3-4 months... during this initial
period, my employer would provide half my salary and my insurance company would provide
half my LTD benefits. You might want to explore this possibility with your husband's employer;
ask them whether they will allow him to come back to work half-time on July 1st if the doctor
approves him for half-time work (say the doctor won't yet approve full-time work) with the
understanding that he'll return to full-time work by 1 October. But before you approach his
employer with this idea, contact his insurance company to see whether they'll continue paying
half his LTD benefits.

Good Luck

Ann G
Posts: 8
Joined: Jun 2010

Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I'm so sory to hear what you have been through. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Ann G

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

I feel I work for the best company in the world after reading most of these posts. The first time I was in treatment the company let we work all the way through, some days I would only come in for ½ day and other days I did not come in at all. The second time going through treatment I did a little better I brought a pillow to work and when I would feel too bad I would just lay on my pillow. One of the ladies would come over and close the door so no one would disturb me and when it was time for me to leave to go for my evening treatment one of the ladies would come and wake me up and tell me it is time for me to leave.

I must say with all the problems I was dealing with I never once had to worry if I was getting a pay check. I am not the only employee here who they treated that way, there are a lot of others and we are all dedicated to doing all we can to help our company who has giving so much back to us.

It is sad that there are not more companies willing to just give a little extra and make dedicated workers

debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

Ann, I'm very sorry to hear this has happened. I wish you the very best with any help you may apply for. I used Bender & Bender to apply for SSD and was approved in 4 months. Only draw back is I must wait 2 years to get madicade. That is unbelieveable!! What is a person to do, we're obviously already sick so staying healthy won't matter.
And really, who can say they won't get sick before the 2 years is up, I mean really.... I hope all works out for you.
I will keep you and your husband in my prayers.
God Bless,

staceya's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2010

Hondo, if I may ask where do you work?
I work at a hospital as an RN (In Education and Admin, so the physical duty is light) and they have been wonderful! I was able to adjust my schedule around 2- 3 hours of daily infusions and rads. I only missed 8 days (the dreaded weeks 4 and 5, or 5 and 6 hard to remember) Everyone makes sure I eat,(or sort of eat). The hospital nutritionist was really good at explaining all of the supplements available.
It does make a difference and I am most grateful to all!

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

I work for a company called CalDive International and they have been just great while I was dealing with my cancer problems all three times. They are big into there employees health in doing all they can to help us help our self stay healthy. One new thing they started last year was offering FREE fresh fruit to everyone as an incentive to good health. They have truly been a blessing

Jan Trinks's picture
Jan Trinks
Posts: 477
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Ann G:

That is just awful about your husband's job. My husband's company was very good about being off for 6 months last year. Now, he's been with them for 26 years so that might have had something to do with it. Unfortunately, these days companies don't seem to give a darn about employees. I just lost my teaching job due to politics with only three years to go till retirement; however I was vested after this year so that's safe. I certainly hope your neighbor can do something or direct you to a lawyer that deals with this sort of thing specifically. You and hubby will be in our prayers.

Jan and Charlie Trinks

Dan Garrett
Posts: 14
Joined: May 2010

It is a shame that hard working people who through no fault of their own are treated as though they are trying to scam a company because of an illness to avoid work. I fortunately had 6 months of short term disability and figured I would be back to work easily within in that time frame. Unfortunately the 5 Chemo treatments and 35 radiation treatments were harder on me than I had expected. After my short disability ran out I was a advised I had to go on Long Disability and my job would not be held for me. My Oncologist had to be on a conference call with my company doctors to justify that I would be able to return to work as soon as my strenght and stamina returned. I am now on a approved Leave of Abscence that is unpaid and all my medical coverage thru my company is paid out of pocket. I am fortunate that I have a job to return hopefully within a few more weeks and we will manage the bills but I am deeply saddened that we who are going through these traumatic times have to deal with this type of stress on top of our illness. Just Venting my frustrations. My ENT doctor says he hears these stories way too much.

Posts: 132
Joined: Oct 2009

Same thing has happened to my Husband (Bob) as soon as his STD ran out they said he was terminated...30years never missed a day of work. They his H.R. People have told me that once someone goes on LTD they figure they will never come back...it is so sad. I am also disabled and work 10-12 hrs a week at a Funeral Home/Cemetery. I signed Bob up for Social Security as soon as he was Diagnosed knowing what I know from my own experience's. He just started getting SSD last month. Bob is confidant they will hire him back, but the H.R people say he can be relpaced and he has no job..but I am not going to burst his bubble. I am very concerned. He is a Welder so it is a phsical job. Our Cobra payment's are outragious...it took a month for them to even kick in. I had to pay out of pocket for my med's and to the tune of 5,000.00. I should be reimbursed, but that it yet to be seen. Bob had Surgery on May 17th and at that point we did not have coverage even though Wage Works had cashed our preium check. We had to get the Surgery done ASAP as they had to take some masses out of his chest that lit up on his PET and they took part of his Tognue off. Thankfully he is all Clear of Cancer...now we have to worry about a job. I am sorry you and your Husband are going thru this, as I know how frightning this is. My Husband will be 55 this year and I keep thinking yes he has a good job History, but why Hire someone his age when they can hire a young person...I just PRAY we all get thru this, if we can get thru the Cancer..this should be easy..(HUH)??? Please stay in touch as I will with you if there are Law's that protect people who have gone thru this.I will be looking into this next week. I keep telling my Husband that he needs to call his Supervisor and tell him the Dr's say maybe 3 more month's. He still cannot eat anything but soup's and Protien Shakes. i am still angry they took his feeding tube out in April...he looks like a skeletin. He was about 145 now he is 110 at 6 feet tall...he has always been thin, but his weight is very unhealthy. He has to take Pain Meds just to be able to swallow and he finished treatment in January. He is moving around and doing projects around the house which is good, but you can tell it is wearing on him. There HAS to be a Law to protect people who get sick..I know of a woman who has been faking Fibromiagia for years and she still get's LTD and SSD those are the people who ruin it for the truly Disabled People who need HELP. I wish you the best and if I find out anything I will let you know and visa versa...
We must stay Positive...it is hard though...
Best of luck to you and your Husband.

denistd's picture
Posts: 578
Joined: Apr 2009

Did you see a lawyer?

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