If your injury was caused by work and you are considering filing a workers' compensation claim, you should contact a workers' comp attorney right away. The intersection of workers' comp, FMLA, and ADA can be quite complicated. Take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.
Attorney Wolf has answered you well with regard to your termination question.
With respect to the Workers' Compensation aspect of your case, be very, very careful. I say this assuming that you have a Workers' Compensation case, as you have posted your question in the Workers' Compensation section. However, you also say that you have gone a month with no income. If you had a work–related injury, you should be receiving Worker's Compensation wage loss benefits.
Regardless, you say that your employer will insist on a 100% return to work by your doctor. Unfortunately, if your doctor agrees with your request to be released return to work full duty, it may adversely affect your Workers' Compensation claim. Your employer may try to stop your wage loss and even medical benefits. It may be time to speak with an attorney.
The answer to this question is based on Pennsylvania Law only. Workers' Compensation statutes and case law vary from state to state.
I agree with the other lawyers response. If you were injured at work you may have a valid workmans compensation claim. This is a very tricky topic that a workmans compensation or employment attorney would be able to handle. An attorney would need to take a look at your employment contract, your doctors records as well as any letters that your employer may have sent you. I work with many workmans compensation/employment attorneys should you decide to pursue any legal action or need to speak to an attorney.
Best of luck.
Contact me for further detailed questions and answers. 215-561-0877 DISCLAIMER: Matthew Solomon is licensed to practice law in both the State of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey.This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. This answer does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
Unless you are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between your employer and a union, your employer is able to set policies on when you can return to work. And because Pennsylvania is a right-to-work state, your employer can terminate you for any reason or no reason (except for certain reasons specified by state and/or federal law). Since you were out on FMLA, any workers' compensation claim you may have is likely more difficult to win because of medical documentation necessary to entitle you to FMLA and certain reporting requirements in the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act. Because of the complexity of your situation, you will be best served by explaining your situation more fully to an attorney who is familiar with FMLA and workers' compensation matters.
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Because you have maxed out your FMLA leave, your employer is not obligated to hold your position for you. FMLA provides you with 12 weeks of job protected leave. If you are able to return to work within the 12 week period, you employer must provide you with your old job or a substantially similar job. If you are not able to return, then your employer is not obligated to hold your job and can terminate you.
That answer may change depending upon the facts of your specific case and the application of the American's with Disabilities Act. The ADA mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodation to qualified employees with disabilities. A brief extension of your FMLA, could, under the right circumstances, be a reasonable accommodation, especially if you are able to return to work with restrictions that can be accommodated.
Your medical condition must be significant enough to qualify as a disability. Alternatively, you would need to argue that your employer treated you differently because it perceived you to be disabled.
Your employer is not required to create a special position for you. But, if it has an appropriate position available and did not offer it to you, or if it regularly provides light duty work to employees with work related injuries, but treats those with non-work-related injuries differently, you may have a claim under the ADA.
Because you have maxed out your FMLA leave and you state that you have been without income for a month, it sounds like you may have been out of work for 4 months or more. When did you first talk to your employer about your injury being work related? Under the Pa Workers’ Compensation Act, you need to give your employer notice of your injury with 120 days (roughly 4 months). If you have not done so, then you may not have a workers’ compensation claim to pursue.
Similarly, the time period to file an administrative claim under the ADA is very short and should be attended to. You have 180 days to file with the PaHRC and 300 days to file with the EEOC. Beware that you would lose your claims under state law if you filed after 180 days. You must file an administrative claim in order to perfect your right to file a lawsuit in court.
As you can see, your situation raises very complex interaction between state and federal laws. You should consult with a workers compensation lawyer or an employment discrimination lawyer as soon as possible. These kinds of attorneys normally provide a free consultation to help you figure out if you have any rights worth pursuing. Good luck.
This answer to your legal inquiry is based upon the limited facts stated in your question. Accurate legal advice is based upon an exchange between a lawyer and a client. The lawyer can then ask about other facts that may change or confirm the answer. Without that exchange, this reply should be considered limited in value. You should rely on this answer only at your own risk. Direct consultation with a lawyer is always recommended. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answering attorney is licensed in Pennsylvania and all answers are given pursuant to Pennsylvania law, unless otherwise indicated.