Isn't this illegal? Even in Texas?

Posted
by Hellllllo Nurse Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN (Member)

Has 15 years experience.

A nurse who works at a clinic where I used to work was on light duty from just having had a cervical laminectomy when the old DON left and a new one started. The new DON let it be known that he does not believe in workers being able to be on "light duty."

Now, my old co-worker has to have another cervical lamy. He has two weeks PTO, which he will use to recover. His boss just told him that if he is unable to do all regular duties when he comes back from his two weeks off, he will be fired.

This is Texas. In my area, employers breaking labor laws and getting away with it is common. I have had two employers in the last two years that owe me money that I've been unable to collect, even after consulting a lawyer.

There is no way it can possibly be legal to fire someone for having surgery, and taking longer than two weeks to be fully recovered, is there?

Employment in Texas is "at will", so I'm thinking it might be legal?!

I've advised my old co-worker to get a lawyer, but he says he can't afford it.

What do you think about this?

barefootlady

barefootlady, ADN, RN

2,174 Posts

Bet they can let him go. Something about doing regular duties and fullfilling the role as a nurse will be used. But the bottom line is, I bet your friend has to look for another job.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 45 years experience. 11 Articles; 17,288 Posts

if they have worked for over a year at the company, they are protected under the federal family and medical leave act.

http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/

Hellllllo Nurse

Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN

Has 15 years experience. 3 Articles; 3,563 Posts

Thanks, Karen. I had forgotten all about FMLA. I will let him know.

chris_at_lucas_RN

chris_at_lucas_RN, RN

Has 7 years experience. 1,895 Posts

It still is just for 12 weeks and it is unpaid.

If your friend can do "light duty," and there is work he could do (puhleeze, even here in Texas arrangements can be made!) but they refuse to let him work, he may qualify for unemployment, even if he is still employed by the same bunch.

Good luck to your friend.

rstewart

rstewart

235 Posts

Well yes their job might be protected for a given period of time under FMLA but that is really of little consequence. Don't forget, FMLA guarantees only UNPAID leave time. So after the employee exhausts his/her 2 weeks PTO, then what? There is no requirement that an employer provide a light duty program. And the employee will have to show they can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accomodation eventually. And of course they aren't eligible for unemployment because they aren't physically able to do the work.

Does this employee have short term disability insurance? Might be able to survive financially with that and PTO until they can physically recover sufficiently to do the work again. Another possibility: any hope of saying the condition was job related....ie under workers comp? Might be work checking with an attorney. Work comp consultations are usually free and they may get some other legal advice thrown in as well.

Havin' A Party!, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU, CM, Geriatrics, Management. Has 10 years experience. 2,721 Posts

... FMLA...

Think the above only pertains to employers with a certain size workforce.

However, don't believe the required number is real high.

RN4NICU

RN4NICU, LPN, LVN

Has 15 years experience. 1,711 Posts

Think the above only pertains to employers with a certain size workforce.

However, don't believe the required number is real high.

I believe it's 50

chris_at_lucas_RN

chris_at_lucas_RN, RN

Has 7 years experience. 1,895 Posts

Think the above only pertains to employers with a certain size workforce. However, don't believe the required number is real high.

I just looked: 50 or more employees for 20 or more weeks in the year.

And of course they aren't eligible for unemployment because they aren't physically able to do the work.

Unless they are able to do some work, which would include light duty, which was apparently available under the previous manager, and therefore should be available with the present one. S/He arbitrarily "doesn't believe" in it.

The worst the unemployment people can say is "no." (Bet they won't! Keep us posted.)

fergus51

fergus51

6,620 Posts

That's disgusting. And people wonder why I won't work non-union jobs anymore.

RN4NICU

RN4NICU, LPN, LVN

Has 15 years experience. 1,711 Posts

That's disgusting. And people wonder why I won't work non-union jobs anymore.

It is disgusting. As nurses, we give and give and give. Then, when we suffer problems of our own, we are cast into the garbage and a new young face is brought in (at least until that one wears out).

mscsrjhm

mscsrjhm

646 Posts

Sure seems like an oral contract with the first DON would make it a legal contract, wouldn't it?

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