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Can I file for unemployment and what about FMLA guidelines?

Dearest Chris,

I was working 40 hours a week last year as a very successful manager under very poor management.

Last year on 11/25/2009 the day before Thanksgiving in Florida, I was in a car accident during my lunch break. I went back to work afterwards event though I was in excruciating pain and finished all pending work activities that needed to be done. I asked my supervisor if I could go home 40 minutes early from the regular punching out time. He gave me a disapproving look and shook his head no. He acted as though I wanted to leave early as the next day was Thanksgiving. He has expressed this type of thinking previously to me about other employees and to other employees about me. He said I would need to call the owner of the company on her day off to get the approval. He would not approve.

Also, I needed to go to physical therapy 2 or 3 times during the week because of the car accident. I always completed all of my work and sometimes my supervisor’s work when he was out of the office. His remarks to me were “why are you still getting physical therapy” and then he would roll his eyes.

I tell you the above stories to set the tone of the office and of course, this is the short version.

On 12/19/2009, after a week of allergic reactions to medications that I had to take to control my pain and swelling from my car accident, I had a life threatening heart arrhythmia. I was not allowed to work after this.

On 1/19/2010, I was placed on disability (FMLA) by my physician for a torn meniscus and a bulging disk in my back that had me in excruciating pain. After I notified my office, they sent me the FMLA forms stating that it started on 12/19/2009. But, I had not requested FMLA until 1/19/2010. I had surgery for a torn meniscus on 2/11/2010. I have been in constant notification with my office regarding my status.

On 3/19/2010, I was laid off from my job. This is really only 2 months into my FMLA, right?

I have not had a pay check since 12/19/2009. I am now in California having my daughter help take care of me.

My questions are as follows:
1)If a company has less than
50 employees. Do they really have FMLA?
They sent me FMLA forms to fill out and I did.
Because if they really do have FMLA they laid me off prematurely.
2) Can I apply for unemployment benefits now? They never offered to let me work from home or anything.
3)Is there a disability program in Florida and is it retroactive?

Thank you for all of your help!
I must remain anonymous for now

Hi Anonymous,

I understand completely about anonymity, in fact I recommend everyone use a fake name.

1. I am not an expert on FMLA I only know about it as it relates to unemployment benefits, but what I do know is that is is "required" for an employer when they have at least fifty employees .. I don't know if any employer can "choose" to follow the guidelines for FMLA.

I do think you might not be correct though in your assumption that an employer cannot backdate the beginning of your leave time to when you first became unable to work .. therefore, I think they laid you off .. just when they became able to do so "legally" .. but you would have to verify this with an attorney or simply explore the guidelines in the former link.

2. You can apply for unemployment now, but you must realize that to be able to collect you have to able and available for work and actively seeking suitable work .. so if you are not up to it right now you would have to supply the state with a release back to work from your doctor to begin collecting.

Florida does not have temporary disability unemployment benefits .. such as California .. in fact I know of only 6 states that have "some kind of state required protection in the event of a temporary disability. California's is funded by a payroll deduction (might be voluntary deduction, I'm not certain) .. therefore it's more common to hear about it there.

They didn't have to offer to let you work from home and it sounds like you are well out of there anyway.

The fact is that the separation is a qualifying separation if you were terminated because you cannot return to work due to your physical condition.

Here's to your speedy recovery and to your release from a bad work environment:)

Good Luck


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