Being disciplined for using sick days Started by zymyn11 , May 20 2013 07:53 PM Please log in to reply 3 replies to this topic 4 posts Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:53 PM I work in a University Hospital, as a "merit" employee. My issue is this: I recently was given a one-day suspension w/out pay for "having too many absences". I did call in sick, but followed the rules and always called in w/in the time limit and notified the appropriate person(s). I never called in sick if I didn't have time in my sick leave account, and I only called in sick when either (a) I was too incapacitated to come to work, or (b)when I was ill and had a temperature of more than 101C (as per hospital policy that no employee is to come to work if they are ill and have a temperature of more than 101C.)
I have never "used up" all of my sick days (we accrue sick/vacation time at a set rate/hours worked each month.) This past Feb. 7th, my Nurse Manager (I'm a psychiatric nursing assistant) called me into her office for "taking too many sick days." She gave me a printout- -a calendar w/my schedule from February 2012 to February 2013- -w/each sick day highlighted. I told her that this was the first time that I had EVER heard that we employees were not allowed to use our sick days. I asked her how many sick days she we are "allowed" to have. She told me that she didn't know for certain, but that she "thought" that I "should take more than one sick day/month."
Fast forward to April 5th. I took one sick day in February, after our discussion, and one in March. Even after these two days, I still had 18 hours of sick leave in my account (as well as 38 hrs of vacation time and 22 hrs of Holiday Compensation Time.) On April 1, my nurse manager called me into her office to tell me that "We need to have an Investigatory Meeting" to determine whether I'd face disciplinary action for having taken those sick days. I agreed to a meeting on April 5th. Then I called my Union Representative.
Once the Investigatory Meeting began, my Union Rep made these points to my Nurse Manager (who, because the U is not exactly a fair place, was not only the person who had made the original complaint, but also the person who would act as the judge at this meeting.). I then pointed out that I had looked closely at the printout that she had given me, and discovered that there were many errors on it. Several days I had been listed as being sick when I had used the time clock at the beginning and end of the shift. There were "sick days" during shifts where I was not scheduled to be at work (my schedule is the same each week.) There were also "sick days" that didn't show clock punches when I had been at work and had witnesses to that fact (my birthday, for instance.) And there were also days where I had called in sick but I had been charged for 10 or 12 hours of sick leave when I should only have been "billed" for eight hours. I explained to my Nurse Manager that over 50% of these "absences" were incorrect, and that I not only wanted this taken into account, but also wanted the time put back into my account.
At the Investigatory Meeting's end, the Nurse Manager made noises that sounded like the complaint was going to be dropped. She said she'd look into innaccuracies and overcharges concerning my sick leave account. She told me that what it really came down to was just http://theworkerscompensationdirectory.com/ that she wanted me to "try to stay well," so I didn't need to call in sick "so often". Both my Union Rep and I thought that we'd heard the last of this issue.
However, less than a week later (on April 10) I recieved a call from my Nurse Manager, stating that "they" had decided to discipline me with a written warning and a one-day, unpaid suspension, due to begin the next day. She was "worried" that I might come to work, so she called to tell me not to bother. Acouple of weeks later, I received the "Notice of Disciplinary Action" which told me that I had recieved the warning and suspension because I had "continued to call in sick" after being told by my nurse manager "in December" (??) that I had accrued too many sick leave absences.
I have yet to hear from my Nurse Manager as to whether I'm going to have any sick leave reinstated. Her lack of response tells me that this is very unlikely. I have filed an appeal (called a STEP) and am still waiting to be given a hearing date. My Union Rep tells me that the next STEP (sorry, I forget what the acronym stands for) will be yet another meeting w/a member of the hospital admin, who has a strong reputation of always "finding in favor of the hospital." She (the Rep) says we'll then have to appeal again, and that that next STEP will actually more likely be fair, as it will be me, my Union Rep coming before two Union leaders, two hospital admin, and two "neutral" members from the State's Board of Regents.
However, my questions are this: 1. Does anybody know for sure whether my "employee contract trumps any departmental 'policy' in the event of a conflict" as my Union Rep was told? 2. Am I missing any arguing points here that I should be using when I state my case? 3. (I know that this is really naiive, but) is what they are doing/have done legal?? I thought that a contract was a contract. Why let us accrue sick days if we're not going to be allowed to take them?
I'm sorry to be so verbose, but...well, I'm pretty p/o'ed, at this point, and I wanted to make sure to give any info that could possibly be pertinant. If anyone has any other advice, I'd love to hear it. Thanks in advance...
Posted 20 May 2013 - 10:32 PM However, my questions are this: 1. Does anybody know for sure whether my "employee contract trumps any departmental 'policy' in the event of a conflict" as my Union Rep was told?
The contract between the employer and the union will indeed govern this issue if it expressly addresses it and assuming that the provisions are not contrary to applicable federal and state laws. An employer's ?policy? is not a contract ? it?s simply the employer?s choice of how to do things. If following that policy conflicts with the contract, then the employer may find itself in breach of contract by applying its policy. Only if that ?policy? reflects some legal requirement might it trump the contract.
You mentioned a board of regents, so I'll assume that this is a state university. Thus, the university will need to follow any applicable civil service rules in addition to the contract. You want to know what those rules and what the contract says, as those will define what the university may do here. Posted 21 May 2013 - 10:02 AM Awfully long, that post. Absent FMLA being involved, it's not illegal to hold time off against you, whether vacation or not. Just because an employer offers paid sick days doesn't mean it can't hold it against you if they think you take advantage (in truth, very few people are actually too sick to function, and in truth five-six days a year is more than most people need). Only contractual obligation and law stop them from doing so, and you don't mention how the time was FMLA.
Naturally, if the employer has a policy that it prefers you get your butt into work, your "[headache or nausea] so terrible that I couldn't possibly function ( ... though I can go shopping or the movies or whatever, but they don't need to know that)," I'd argue they were free to tell you that you'd best get your butt into work because X isn't a good enough reason and the job needs covering. (Whether they would be obligated to tell you that it will be held against you if you refuse is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.) <br>For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://boards.answers.findlaw.com/index.php/topic/225832-being-disciplined-for-using-sick-days/