I am new to this forum so forgive me if this question has been posted before.
I was injured on the job and have been out of work since 08/14/09. When I originally found out that I would be out for a week I contacted my Administrator and advised her of my work status. My Administrator advised me to call the main office and ask if I need to fill out the FMLA papers. She referred me to the Department Adminstrative Assistant who was unsure of what to do. The AA stated that she had never come about this situation with WC and she would need to call a specific person in HR to verify. This was about 2:00 pm on 08/14/09. The AA called me back at 4:30 pm on 08/14/09 to say that she left two messages for the HR rep to call her back, but she did not think that WC applied to FMLA. If there are any changes, she would call me back. I called my Adminstrator back to inform her of the information that was given to me by the Department AA and she stated that I had at least attempted to verify if this was considered FMLA, and that I should be fine. Needless to say I never heard from the AA again. However, I continued to call my supervisor after every visit to update her on my current work status, which continued to be out of work.
After my visit in October, the Orthopedic docotor recommended that I continue with PT and remain out of work until the follow up in November. Two days after calling my supervisor, I received a letter from my employer(the same HR rep that never called the AA back in Aug), stating that my WC absences are designated as Medical Leave of Absence, and will run concurrent with the FMLA statute. The letter went on to say that my WC claim will be updated on a bi-weekly basis by Risks and Claims Department. Under the WC Program my health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits will not be affected and will remain in force while I am receiving authorized medical care. I was to call the HR rep if I had any questions.
Now, I do have an attorney and ran this by him and he said that he didn't think that my employer could do this. However, this is not his area of expertise and he is going to refer me to a Labor Attorney who is a friend of his. I do work for an employer who is considered to be a State of NJ employer, and I am also a Union member. Through research on the Internet, I have found that an employer can run FMLA concurrent with WC if it is stated in their handbook. They also have to notify the employee in writing of how long the leave is designated for, how much time they have left, when they are expected to return, and which way the leave will run(rolling year, calender year, fiscal year,etc). Okay so I was out for major surgery earlier this year for eight weeks on an unrelated medical situation, which would leave four weeks left for FMLA. My employee handbook only states that intermittent FMLA time is on a rolling basis, nothing about straight 12 week FMLA.
My questions are:
1) Can my employer make the FMLA retroactive back to 08/14/09?
2) If not, would I still only have four weeks left due to the FMLA taken earlier in the year?
3) The letter from the employer did not designate how the time would run and was not complete with the information of when I was to return and what was expected of me. Also, there was no information attached to it(FMLA paperwork), it was just a one page letter. Does this make the leave valid at this point?
4) If the doctor is seeing me on a monthly basis, and the letter from my employer states that my claim will be updated bi-weekly, will I be out of compliance if I just call after my appointments?
5) As a Union employee, can they terminate if I do not return after the twelve weeks or whatever FMLA time I have left?
Note: The physical therapy has not helped and in fact my knee is feeling worse. Also my right knee is starting to hurt due to the overcompensating for the left knee injury. My next course of action will probably be surgery according to previous talks with treating doctor.
Sorry for the dissertation, but I just wanted to be thorough for you to understand my questions. Believe me, there is more, but for fear that I will reveal my identity, I omitted the rest of the story.
Thanks for any help you can offer.