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What if my doctor is telling me to quit my job for health reasons?
Updated : September 29th, 2022
Posted by Pam (Indiana)
Since moving into my current position approximately two years ago, my health has not been so good. I am having a bone marrow biopsy this week in fact. My doctor says the stress I am under at work is making things worse. To top it off my current supervisor told me on June 17 that within six months I no longer have a viable position, nor a job!
He has nearly ceased giving me work to do and/or communicating with me. I am a strong, dedicated employee and have been with this company for ten years. I spent a few weeks of difficult times through the late winter/early spring when undergoing medical procedures, but continued my work without delay. When he told me about the position being no longer viable within six months he said it has to do with changes within the department.
I asked if it was my work performance or anything I have done and he said no it has nothing to do with that. Then, two weeks later I talked with the HR director who said that he told them it was my performance. I have never had a bad appraisal or even had any indication that my work was inadequate (if that’s even what he is saying?, I don’t know for sure). I’ve asked him again and he says it is because the job situation is changing. Well, behind the scenes I know that he is interviewing a much younger and better looking female for this position.
Oh, I also said to him that I was not his high-quality of people that he’s looking for or wants in this position, again he said that has nothing to do with it. So, coming to work every day is very difficult and makes it hard to look for employment elsewhere. My doctor says quitting could very well make my health improve? If I do quit will I be eligible for unemployment compensation while looking for another job? This is all so crazy!
I’m feeling for you, because trying to get an answer to your questions can only add more stress.
So I’ll just shoot as straight as I can.
Quitting almost always requires us to give the employer an opportunity to accommodate our needs or correct a situation. If we don’t do this, they protest our claim for unemployment by saying we failed to do just that. It is the exact opposite of the situation when we are fired. If an employer doesn’t first warn us to correct some behavior they have a hard time winning, and I might add that the offending behavior needs to rise to the statutory definition of misconduct too.
If you have “medical documentation” which advises that you quit your stressful job to seek less stressful work you should be able to collect unemployment, but I always advise that a person be able to show the state some documentation of the efforts that were made to first preserve the employment, such as discussions or written communications with the employer that show you sought other remedies prior to quitting.
A couple things that give me pause in your case are the fact that you didn’t mention anything about FMLA or Short-term disability and this little statement “He has nearly ceased giving me work to do and/or communicating with me.”
My first question is whether this is the employer’s attempt to “reduce the stress”. Because of my experience, I am always reverse engineering and asking questions that highlight possible arguments the other side might use, so you can close the gaps in your own case.
Now I’d like to ask you this: If you have information that the employer is interviewing “younger” people for your job, have you considered the possibility that the employer may be flirting with “age discrimination”? Have you raised this issue with HR? And while I’m at it have you presented any documentation to HR that will have the effect of putting to rest the specter of being fired for “poor performance”.
I think it sounds like they are bound and determined to get rid of you and are trying to do so by minimizing any liability they may have, including unemployment.
Pam, some situations can be complicated, not so much by the “true issues” at hand, but by the intentions of humans.
There are supervisors and manager out there tossing and turning at night with guilt over some of the things they have been told to do. These are the “behind the scene” things we suspect, but few employees cover themselves from. We fail to act early enough, like when we first suspect.
Many employers don’t like sick employees and look for ways to get rid of them with as little trouble and the least amount of liability as possible. It’s an ugly fact of life, but a successful company always has their eye on the bottom line.
And just so you know, quitting because an employer tells you that your position will not be viable in 6 months and you’ll probably be out of a job, is not good cause for quitting.
Indiana statute says this about quitting for health reasons: (2) An individual whose unemployment is the result of medically substantiated physical disability and who is involuntarily unemployed after having made reasonable efforts to maintain the employment relationship shall not be subject to disqualification under this section for such separation.
The EEOC says this about Age Discrimination.
Comments for What if my doctor is telling me to quit my job for health reasons?
Let me clear something up. My health has not been in the way of my job performance by any means. I have kept up and exceeded deadlines. I am a very dedicated employee. My suspicion was confirmed this morning that the younger employee will eventually replace me. She actually starts this Thursday, of course, only as a temporary position, but the temporary will be lifted in August or maybe September. So still I did not get an answer from my supervisor as far as when my duties are up? He’s clever, so I’m going to have to become more clever than he! I have no doubt in my mind that my age and ‘look’ has something to do with this whole thing. In fact, the new girl will be doing recruiting from a clientele of mainly the male species.
I am a very outgoing, easy to get along with person, and feel very confident in the recruiting aspects. I had a coworker tell me the problem is with the supervisor and me not being what he wants in this position.
I am not the suing kind of person, I have never sued anyone and I don’t plan to start now. I just wish the law were on my side so I could draw unemployment compensation while looking for another job. Being here is not the ideal situation!!!
Quitting needs to be attributable to the employer to collect unemployment, in most cases
I understand what you’re saying. I also understand “not being the suing kind”. It takes a lot of energy to sue, but lawyers aren’t just for suing, they are also for scaring.
Since you say your health does not prohibit you from working and doing a great job also, are you in agreement with your doctor? Are you willing to first seek accommodation from the employer to lower the “stress level”?
Or have you done this, by presenting the medical documentation to the employer? Or is the stress being caused by the age and sex discrimination possibility???
Let’s just put this younger more suitable for male recruitment temp on the back burner and focus in on your health issue now.
The law is on your side, but only if you are willing to work within it.
A doctor’s medical recommendation is good cause to quit, but only if we have first given the employer the opportunity to correct, remove, or accommodate the medical reason in some way.
Let’s say a person has a back problem and the work is too physical or requires a motion that must be avoided. The patient/employee must first ask the employer to accommodate them, so they can heal or not re-injure themselves. If they don’t, they will likely be denied unemployment irregardless of whether the employer would have accommodated them or not simply because they failed to make an attempt to preserve the employment.
If the employer refuses to accommodate the medical restriction, they would then have the good cause they need to quit and collect.
The other issues you raised about age and sex discrimination would be moot unless you choose to go that route which also requires you to make effort to preserve the employment, such as through filing a complaint with HR, EEOC complaints, etc.
The state only needs one reason to allow unemployment. When someone has a laundry list of reasons why they quit, the state looks for the proximate cause which compelled the employee to say “I quit”. It’s when a person can’t follow through with the information about how they tried to preserve the employment, that they wind up with a denial of benefits letter, because the employer used that lack of follow through on the claimant’s part as the basis of their claim protest.
But you can’t have it both ways, quitting with good cause for medical reasons and claiming you are fully capable of doing the work.
If you quit because of concerns for your health, understandably created by the advice of a medical doctor, it’s a personal reason, but the hitch is that most states require the quit be attributable to the employer.
Unless a state has a specific provision which relates to this issue, an employer can be charged. And employer’s tend to fight hard when there is no corresponding statute which allows for them to be non-charged for these circumstances.
Boss wants to do review now
Now my boss wants to have another performance review with him, the HR director, and me. This is after being told on June 15 that my position would no longer be a viable position within six months due to all kinds of changes taking place in the department.
However, two weeks after that the director of HR told me my boss had shared with her something about errors, untimeliness, and inadequacy (in my opinion only to cover his you-know-what) since he has brought in a much younger female with ‘the look’ to recruit new students in a program that is predominantly males. In ten years of employment (eight years with another department) I have never had a negative performance review.
I asked for proof of my inadequacies, untimeliness, and errors. Of course there was nothing produced. When he said something to me about this ‘talk’ I asked why? What was the point in talking now? Isn’t is futile to talk now? He responded with “well, because we said we would when we met in February or whenever that was we met.” In January is when I was finally presented with a job description after waiting for a year and seven months. The only thing he faulted me on at the time was my disorganization.
My office was not neat and tidy like he wanted it to be. So, I set time aside and made files, organized everything, and have kept it that way ever since. For the life of me I have no idea what this guy is talking about with my work. I am a very dedicated, hard-working individual that goes above and beyond what I am required to do.
I have never been untimely about anything. Errors, well in fact while I’m typing this I cannot for the life of me come up with anything. I just do not understand where he is coming from. Now, the question is am I obligated to go in alone and listen to what these two have to say since I have already been told I will no longer have a job within six months?
I am very actively seeking employment elsewhere and have an interview on Wednesday morning. I do not feel a bit comfortable about this meeting and am nearly sick just thinking about it. I have lost 20 pounds in the last three weeks from vomitting and being sick. Losing weight is not a bad thing for me, but doing it this way is not good. I had a bone marrow biopsy this past Thursday morning and will not know the outcome for two weeks. I do not need this added stress and really do not want to sit in on this meeting. I know I will have a new job very soon and do not have to worry about the whole unemployment thing. Is this something you can advise me on? Thank you!
Age discrimination, sex discrimination, health, being replaced by poor performance.
I know you don’t want to hear this, but first, you are being replaced and they aren’t just satisfied with replacing you, but want to make an attempt to get rid of you and any liability they may have, including unemployment benefits.
I would say yes, you have to attend that meeting or face a possibility of being considered insubordinate. You need to file a formal complaint before that meeting. You need to bring up the fact that they have already hired a cuter younger model to replace you. You need to bring up the fact that you need FMLA to deal with your health issues. You need to say I’m filing an EEOC complaint.
Pam, if you do not protect yourself now by asserting your rights not to be discriminated against due to your age, you are just giving this employer a pass to walk all over you any way they choose.
You have a boss who doesn’t want you because of “protected” things. He also probably doesn’t want you because of your health issues, irregardless of your view of your health issues.
You haven’t done anything to protect your job as of yet, therefore they are free to create circumstances they think will be considered good cause to get rid of you, or piss you off enough to quit over.
I know you don’t want to sue, but you clearly need to know that you are the one allowing this to happen.
If you don’t want to go to the meeting alone, think about contacting a lawyer to go with you because you need someone to assert your rights for you.
I understand that you take pride in your work and you do a great job, but guess what, some bosses just don’t care that you do a great job. They never will because all they want to do is get rid of you for whatever shallow, personal or self-serving reasons they have.
You’ll never change this situation unless you scare them with the possibility of “trouble”.
I hope your interview goes well, then this all becomes moot. Right? I also hope the medical test don’t bring anything but relief to you.
I quit my job for a reason 1) the boss give me bad looks 2) some people there don’t talk to you 3) medical reason
Is that so. Do you want to know something in particular?
I hate to be a stickler about details, but I know I’ve written at least something about all three reasons for quitting.