Doctor's excuses, and company policy.
Started by Coal_Grunt , Feb 16 2014 04:13 PM
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Posted 16 February 2014 - 04:13 PM
I'm a coal miner, and currently working in Kentucky. I'm suspended at the moment, and a hearing being scheduled with the Union to see if I'll be terminated, or not. Company policy states an employee must call in to work each day he/she is going to be absent at least one hour before the appointed shift, and a doctor's excuse shall be provided for the days absent. The excuse must meet certain criteria. It must say "Unable to work". That being said, I had to miss 5 days, because my wife had surgery, and needed time to recover. My wife is already disabled, and we have four children. Her doctor gave me explicit orders not to go to work, or leave her until the return to work date on the excuse. My employer's position is "I was able to work". I called in every day, and provided the excuse as required by the attendance policy. I was injured on the job under the impression that company attendance policies were to be followed by both parties. I feel I've bent over backwards to be compliant, and my employer has broken the rules. Specific punishments are noted for any noncompliance by the employee in the attendance policy. First is a verbal warning. Then written. Then a 3 day suspension. Then suspension with intent to terminate. They skipped the first three on me, and suspended me with intent to terminate. There were around fifteen guys that had apparently violated the attendance police, and they all received the correct disciplinary action described in the attendance policy. Am I being discriminated against? Is it o.k. for an employer to violate a policy? Are there any legal precedents to clear this up for me? Are there any legal precedents that deal with doctor's excuses?
Posted 16 February 2014 - 04:49 PM
First, you may have been entitled to take unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If your company is large enough and other requirements were met, then under the FMLA you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to deal with serious medical problems for yourself or close family members, which would include your spouse. The federal Department of Labor has a helpful FMLA Fact Sheet that explains this law in some detail.
Apart from that, you may have additional protection under the contract your union has with the employer. You'd need to read that contract to see what the contract allows.
Note that generally company ?policy? is not a contract and the employer is not obligated to follow it (unless, of course, the union contract says that). The employer must, however, ensure that it applies its enforcement of its policies in a way that does not result in illegal discrimination. Under federal law, this means that the employer may not enforce the policies differently because of the employees? race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age (if the employee is at least age 40), disability, or genetic test information. So, it matters why you were treated differently than the other 15 guys who evidently violated the policy.
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