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Fun with labor laws.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
A couple of months ago,I shared my story with diverticulitis and all the joys of what I went through.I thought the worst was behind me,but boy,was I wrong!

Since I am no longer affiliated with the company,I wanted to share with the board how I learned the hard way about labor laws, loopholes and how corporations will screw employees.

So,after my six week recovery,I was cleared by the surgeon to go back to work.Four days before I was going to come back,my chef calls me to tell me "it would be in my best interest if I moved on".He was pretty upset [on the verge of tears] because he knew I did nothing to get fired.I didn't plan on having my colon rupture;it just happened.I asked if my surgery had anything to do with it and he said he was "not at liberty to say".RED FLAG!!!

Why was I let go? I was due for the group insurance plan in a couple of months [they had a long waiting period for insurance;not the normal 90 days] and they knew I'd need a second surgery in December to re-connect my colon and get this cursed colostomy bag off of me.At the time this happened,I was in the process of getting a private policy.One more week and I would have been covered,but Murphy's Law said otherwise!

Now even if I get another policy,I have to wait a full YEAR for the surgery because of the pre-existing condition requirements.I only needed the bag for 4 to 6 months,now I am stuck with my companion [no pun intended] till next June.Nice,huh?

I was told that there were not enough hours to keep me on,but I knew that was a total lie because I had seen the 4 weeks worth of BEO's on the board and knew how many hours everyone was working,but we all know the "not enough hours" trick.I'd kept in touch with co-workers and they were complaining how the work had increased because I wasn't there and not replaced.My position has not been filled to this day.

So at the time of surgey,I was uninsured.You can imagine how much it cost me,but hospitals give up to a 50% discount if you had no insurance...BUT,you have to pay the bill in full within 30 days.I was lucky enough to have the funds to cover it,but it was a HUGE chunk out of our retirement fund.The other alternative was to file bankruptcy,which I was doing anything to avoid!

Now here's where the fun begins: I was granted unemployment even though the company gave two separate reasons for me being terminated,both of which contradicted each other.Even the Labor Dept.thought it sounded fishy,so they advised me to go to the EEOC.

Turns out the state of GA. is all about protecting the employer.There is no such thing as "temporary medical disability discrimination" here.And I was just shy of working there a year,so I didn't qualify for FMLA,so my six weeks were unpaid.

The very nice person at the EEOC felt terrible at having to tell me there was no legal recourse I could take because while what they did was "horrendous,immoral and unethical",they did not break any laws.Now,if it were CA. she told me I would have had a "Right To Sue" letter in my hand that day...but GA. is nowhere near as progressive a state.

And I found out that the company had a previous class-action lawsuit against them for taking money out of paychecks for breaks that were never taken...nice!

But life goes on;I start a new job next week and I feel fine and have even more strength because of this.Karma will get them back for me.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #2 of 16
I feel for you and understand that at the crux of the whole issue is "bennies", or medical care in particular. Nasty what they did , and I sure wouldn't want to be the Chef telling you that you're fired.

I'm on the opposite side of the coin. In my neck of the woods the Labour Board and the Worker's Comp are all skewed towards the employee. I just finished fighting a case where an ex-employee claimed over $1000 in damages where she supposedly injured her foot/toe at work. Claimed the incidnent happened on a Fri. afternoon, yet only sought out medical attention on Mon. afternoon. X'rays failed to find anything, physical exam failed to find any bruising/broken skin or abrasions, doctor only prescribed time off. Yet the WCB (worker's comp board) found me at fault and asked me to pay up, and also refused to show me any medical documentation to support this claim. So I fought the case, original case officer "dissapeared" during subsequent investigation when I finally got a peek at the medical report. After 9 mths I was finally cleared of any wrong doing. This is not un-common, for it is far easier to go after the employer than the employee. Most small employers will suck up to the trumped up fines just to get them off their back, as both the employer, employee and the WCB know that the claim is bogus, but a small employer is an eejit and squashable, and must be punished.

Now with the Labour Board here, it's viva la Mexico---as in the Mexican justice system: Here it's the employer is always assumed guilty when any compaint is filed against him--no paperwork or supporting information is needed by the employee to lay a complaint and start the case. The employer is responsible for all time defending himself, for all costs involved. When the employer is found innocent of any such complaints (and I have been, on two occasions) the employer has no recourse to any compensatin for time/money spent, NOR WILL HE GET ANY ACKNOWLDEGDMENT THAT THE COMPLAINT LODGED AGAINST HIM WAS FALSE.

There are pieces are crap on both sides of the fence, always looking to save money or make money at someone else's expense, and it gets me very upset.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 16
Alt-
You have protection under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act which allows an employee up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave due to the birthor adoption of a child, death or severe illness of a family member or illness of the employee themselves. You then have the right to resume your previous position as long as you stay in contact with your employer and advise them as to your progress toward rejoining the establishment. The EEOC are state agencies and their employees are not necessarily well versed in Federal statutes.
If your employers have reasons to terminate your employment other than your illness, you have the absolute right to see those reasons in writing before you are officially terminated.
From what you describe, you might very well have a credible case for obtaining at least some back pay and possible reinstatement of your position. I would certainly spend the money to have a conversation with a labor lawyer to explore your options. At least you can get a clear picture of what your rights and responsibilities are in addition to the legality of your employer's actions.

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #4 of 16
It also sounds like you might have some allies (ie witnesses) in your chef and coworkers. Granted, it would require them to stick their necks out for you a bit, but you could make the case that their helping you would protect their futures as well.

Good Luck

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #5 of 16
You paid them?! aargh... rant... hate hospital accounting. They give more than a 50% discount to insurance companies, so they fed you a line of rot. Not only that but you only have to pay them $5 or $10 a month toward the bill and they can't touch you. Sounds like the hospital goons put a heavy hand on you.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Not really.See,you have to ASK for the discount,they don't just offer it up to you. We had found out the information from an advocacy [sp?] group and they CAN give a bigger discount to an insurance company;but I'm not a multi-million dollar insurance company.And would you rather be able to pay under $15,000 in one fell swoop or be stuck with twice that at $10 to $15 a month for God knows how many years?

If that is what my life cost me and to get it off my plate ASAP..it was worth it.I don't need a monster outstanding debt over my head..and I was fortunate to be able to pay;some aren't as lucky.I didn't die and am young enough to put the money back over a few years.

Insurance and medical costs are insane in this country and there's not a lot of ways around it when you get stuck without insurance.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
thanks,foodnfoto.

One small glitch,though:since I was at the job less than a year,I did not qualify for FMLA.I spoke with FIVE labor lawyers [trust me,I was hammering to find a way!] and that one fact alone shot any chance of being able to go after them.

Another issue was that GA. is a "Right to Hire/Right to Work" state;they can get rid of you for no reason at all and you can leave with no notice.You also sign an agreement stating as such when you are hired at any job here,be it kitchen or office work.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Good lord,that is nuts what happened to you! Even worse that when you were not in the wrong that it's still "on your record".Just sad!
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #9 of 16
Atl,
I am originally from Atlanta and worked in and around for over 20 years.
I've seen the lawsuits about untaken break times and many, many, discrimination and wrongful termination suits.....I have always carried health insurance for myself and now for my family....and it has always been taken care of before any retirement was paid into....its so very important....I also agree that its the "right thing to do" paying your medical costs...it was a service to you in your time of need and its only fair.....as far as getting let go or terminated....its a pretty harsh but predictable decision....we would all like
to be taken care of, but, sometimes the bottem line is so very important when you have to answer to investors or have other financial obligations that demand certain results....I hope you do not feel singled out....I would suggest that you consider carrying some sort of supplimental insurance should
this happen again....Many times throughout the years I have had to really limit my families lifestyle to "do the right thing", i.e. supplimental insurance policies in case of similar emergencies such as yours....If you really thing it through....this is probably not the company you want to work for....I worked for a large company in atlanta and was pretty surprised when the owner carried a chef for over 6 months after having his colon removed...he had worked his butt off for ten years though....One thing I have learned....nobody owes you anything....take care of yourself and your family....don't ever assume you have the right to demand anything from your employer.....I hope I don't sound harsh, but, it seems peoples feelings of
entitlement is getting out of hand....it will in the end drive mom & pop and fledgling companies right out of business....I was happy to hear that you are on the mend and hope the best for you in the future.....take care
post #10 of 16
FMLA also doesn't apply to businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
This company is one of the largest catering companies in the SouthEast with four locations in Atlanta and well over 1,000 employees.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks,Stephen.

The insurance issue was only because my husband had been laid off and his insurance had just run out [sounds like a soap opera,huh?]...this was literally the first time in my entire adult life that I had no insurance,even though it was only for a period of three months!But that's how life works sometimes.You think "Ok,let me get through a brief period with nothing happening and I'll be alright" and it isn't.

And don't worry about sounding harsh at all.I've seen so many people get wronged in this business and others [geez,look at former Enron employees!],that I know it was not personal.I'm not arrogant enough to think that the world revolves around me,you know?:)

It's all in how you look at things: my situation is temporary and I still HAVE a colon,unlike the chef you posted about,who will have a bag for LIFE.This has seriously changed how I look at life and how to decide what to worry about and when to just say "Well,that's how it goes!" It makes things a lot easier to know when to let it go.
Like I said,karma will get them back somewhere down the line.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #13 of 16
I didn't know how many people worked where your worked. But so many restaurants and such are small businesses. And small businesses operate in a much laxer and less controlled legal environment.

Thanks for clarifying your situation and good luck.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks,phatch!

I got in with a great company now [unemployment let's you do research.I wasn't going to "settle" for any job],so things can only go upwards!
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

But on a lighter note...

When I went in to get some stuff out of the office and say goodbye in person to people,three of the dishwashers came up to me and handed me an envelope:

"We heard what happened and it sucks,so this is for you."

They gave me $50.I got emotional [not normal for me at all!] because I knew that these were the folks who needed their pay more than the rest of us,but they were trying to help me out.

There's still some decent people out there and it's nice to know.
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #16 of 16
Good for you ATL, there really are people who care....even if they are
dishwashers.....would it be rude to ask who you worked for and where
you ended up.....Perhaps I could steer you in the right direction.....or
at the least make a few calls.....not to presume you need it.....feel free
to private message me....there really are a lot of great people to work
for in Atlanta, if your serious about your work....never easy though, never
free.....I hope this finds you well....take care....
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