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health reasons

by TJ
(Muskegon, MI)

For the past year and a half I have had several health issues. It first started the summer of 2008. I began having trouble with my left side and back. I do a lot of standing, bending, stooping and lifting and repetitive work on my job. I had informed the then dept lead that I was having severe pain in my left hip area and back problems. After having several days of it the dept lead said she would mention it to the supervisor. No one came to me to ask what the problem was. About a month later after no concern I had gone to the HR person to explain to them that I was having trouble doing my job because I limped quite a bit because of the pain, she told me to do what the dept lead told me to do until I get xrays to find out what was going on. I went to get the xrays. The xrays showed a cyst on my hip, bones spurs and a degenerative disc in my back. I had also gone to a bone specialist where I was told it probably wouldn't get any better. I went to inform the HR person about the finding and mentioned to her again that I've been going to quite a bit of pain, she commented on what I wanted the company to do for me and I asked if I could possibly be moved to a different area til I get better. Nothing came from that meeting I had with her. She was let go by the company a couple of weeks later. After another couple of months of the agonizing pain, I also developed bone spurs in my left foot because of having to put weight on the right side to accomodate walking. I then mentioned the problems I was having to yet another dept lead that took over for the other one that went to a second shift. Still I wasn't spoken to about it nor was I moved to a lighter production job. Without any help, there were times when I did call in to work stating that I wasn't able to get around because of the pain. In Nov. 2009 we had gotten in a couple of temps at work. One day one of them was working on the line that I was on. Apparently she had something happen to her leg. Right in front of me,

the plant manager came up to her and asked her how she was and she told him her leg hurt. Right away he told the dept lead that she needed to find a sit down job for the rest of the day. The same day, I informed him of my back and hip problem and what I was told on the xrays. He told me he didn't know anything about it and he would talk to the supervisor about it. Nothing has ever come of it nor was I approached and asked how I was doing. As of 4 months ago, I noticed more back pain as the weeks went by had gone to the doctor 3 different times about it. A month ago, after switching insurance companies at work, I yet made another appointment because I wanted to get xrays to see why I was having
more back pain. I then made out a vacation slip for that day that was approved. At the time of my appointment, we were strapped at work and I informed my supervisor that I had the day off and that I was going to the doctor to get xrays to see what was going on with my back. She replied to me, " do you really need to take the whole day off?" I told her yes because I was set for my annual and wanted to get an xray. She then replied, "Who's choice was it for you to get the xray?" she asked me that twice in our conversation. Once again, I told her that I was having problems with my back and since I wasn't going to be moved from this line, I need to find out what was going on in my back. She then replied that people learn the jobs they want to around here and also added where around in this shop do you sit all day?. There are several jobs there that would accomodate my need til I was better. I was totally shocked to hear that said from her. For the straight past two months I've had pain every night in my back which lead to sleepless nights and I have had pain everyday at work to deal with. I had gone to the doctor once again last week and was given a note to inform my supervisor about persistant back pain. To this day, I still haven't been approached about it and I am still on the same job. I feel that I have done what I needed to do to inform my employer about my health issues and therefore I feel I have no other choice than to voluntarily exit my job. Please give me some advice. Thank you very much.

Hi TJ,

If I were you, I would go to HR once again, present the note which advises work accommodation for your pain and demand an answer to whether they can accommodate or not.

I would present something in written form which includes the jobs you believe you would be able to do and request that the employer allow you to be moved to one of those jobs.

Document everything, meetings, conversations, what was said in the conversations .. etc. If you present a letter to the employer .. retain a copy for your records. Paper is what helps you win benefits if the burden is yours.

Also, ask your doctor or HR person if intermittent FMLA for your condition is a possibility. That way if you need to go to the doctor again .. or if you are in so much pain you can't work and you don't have available time off .. FMLA will be protecting your job. 12 weeks of it anyway.

Also if the doctor note isn't specific as to limitations get them to be more specific ..

As far as I know, Michigan does not have a provision which allows benefits for a voluntary quit for your own health reasons .. so you need to pound on the available accommodations that are available and will work.

I suspect the reason they helped the temp out is because the pain or injury was "job related" .. and it was a temp employee.

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