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Terminated on medical leave, employer saying I quit

I live in New Jersey. I was with my employer for 5 years. I had no history of any wrong doing, was employee of the month and also sent to Florida many times for training, also given positive reviews with a raise at the end of each year.


I went out on short term state disability 10/22/2009 due to injuries from an auto accident. I had surgery on my back in 12/2009. When I went out on leave, I went to my employer (in person) and explained the situation and told him I would be out of work for a while. In the meantime, I had left my toolboxes and all of my tools at work, my employer continued to accrue my vacation days, paid for my health benefits, and into my 401K. I had every intention of returning to work.

In June, I received COBRA papers stating that I was terminated on 5/21/2010. I contacted my employer asking if I was fired. They stated that they were told I was cleared to return to work and since I hadn’t contacted them, they took this as a voluntary termination. I was also cleared to return to work in June right after this happened. I filed for unemployment 7/11/2010 and it was granted. In January, I received a letter from unemployment stating that I qualified for an extension. I had a telephone interview last week and it was determined that I quit my job and now have to repay the unemployment back to July. I asked why I was approved back in July and was told because my employer never responded the first time. I plan on appealing and have the COBRA papers stating that I was terminated. I also have an email from work stating I was cleared to return to work (which I wasn’t so no-one would have contacted my employer) and didn’t contact them. Is there any chance of winning this appeal? I wasn’t sure what to put in the appeal letter. I also wanted to know if I should contact my employer asking them for termination papers (which I never received) or the proof that I was cleared to return to work.



There might be, I would want to ask you more questions about whether your return to work date was ever extended or changed by your physician.

In the meantime write a very simple appeal letter stating your disagreement with the determination and request a hearing.

Nothing too elaborate.

If you use the search box and plug in "sample unemployment appeal letter" you should find it.

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Mar 19, 2011
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by: Anonymous

When I received the Cobra papers, I emailed HR in MN and said that I had received papers from Cobra stating that I was terminated and asked if that were the case. She responded that they were told I was cleared to return to work (which I wasn't) and didn't contact them so they took that as a voluntary termination. This is the part I have a problem with. I wasn't cleared to return to work. I think she just said that to cover her butt in order to fire me. I've asked for either termination papers or the proof she claimed she had stating that I was cleared to return to work. I never got a response back.






Hi again,

I don't think I'm really going to be able to help you anymore without seeing paperwork and being able to ask you direct questions and get direct answers.

I wonder if you worked for BB though? I think they are headquartered in MN.

Which leads me to my next question.

Did the employer outsource the management of your leave to an outside company that handles FMLA and medical leaves of absence?



File the appeal make sure it is timely and verifiably so.

If when you get your hearing notice you think you might need more help .. either contact me for a consultation or

Mar 19, 2011
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by: Anonymous

No my employer never sent me any papers. We were still on good terms, my insurance and 401K were being paid and vacation days still accruing. I submitted the disability papers every 90 days to the state. I understand that they didn't have to hold my job. My problem is that they terminated me and are now saying that I quit. I was still not cleared to return to work on 5/21/2010 so why would I quit. I have asked for termination papers since all I ever received was COBRA papers staing I was terminated. I never received anything from my employer other than a check for vacation days dated 6/4/2010.




What was the date of the email you received from work saying that you were cleared for work that you did not respond to? And while were at it .. what else did it say?

At least this is what I picked up when I went back to read your original question that leaves me wondering if this is the reason the employer has responded to unemployment that you did in fact quit .. when you didn't respond.

Mar 18, 2011
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by: Anonymous

No. Like I said, I had left all of my stuff there and I knew my vacation days were still accruing. I was also under the impression that they received a copy of the disability papers I had to resubmit every 90 days with my new estimated recovery date. The day I went out, I told my manager it was going to be an extended leave. He was fine with this and said I would just need something saying that I was cleared to return to work when I was ready.



Nope, that isn't the way it works .. who was submitting the disability papers? Did no one ever send you any mail or letter to inform you that you needed to contact the employer Or that if you were unable to return to work by X date your employment would be terminated?

I already know you were way past any possible FML coverage and no employer has to hold your job open for you past 12 weeks out of work for an off the job injury or non-work related illness.

The fact that you left your tools there is not a strong argument that you hadn't quit by failing to return or keep in contact.

Assuming is never a good thing to do when you're assuming things about legal matter or legal rights.

I guess since the employer is now claiming you quit .. someone should look into whether the employer informed you of what was required of you to avoid a denial of benefits.

I forget .. did you say you are located in NJ?

If you're not in NJ or one of the other states that I can't refer people to an unemployment hearing representative .. I suggest you fill out the form to get a rep.

If you are in NJ then I could always take a look at your documents and discuss your situation that I can get a clearer picture of "what went wrong".

Mar 18, 2011
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by: Anonymous

My physician was reviewing my case every 90 days so my cleared date did keep getting pushed back every 3 months. I was never cleared to return to work before my termination date as my employer is now saying.





Hi,
Did you keep your employer updated with the new return to work dates from your physician?

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