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  1. #1

    Unhappy Negotiating for Severance Pay After FMLA Leave

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Oregon
    My (former) employer is a private company with ~50 employees

    I'm back! My previous issue has gone pear-shaped. When I returned to work things with HR and management were a little uncomfortable, but for the most part it felt fantastic to be back with my team. When I checked last, I had at least 30 more cases closed than my other three teammates and my feedback scores were nearly perfect. My coworkers even nominated me for employee of the month. I'm not sure how much all of that counts, though, because last week an unauthorized user used my team to fraudulently obtain an account's password. They used it to alter information in their system. The next day the user's mother called and I confirmed that it had happened and read her two of their lines of chat. (I also told her how I could tell that it happened, but that interface information is available on the customer-facing support site.) Criminal charges are being filed against the user and there's a possibility of my former company being sued. Yesterday afternoon I was fired for disclosing confidential information.

    Normally I would say that's completely fair, but my teammate who released the password to the unauthorized user was not fired. Only I was. I think that I was targeted because of what happened before, and because my company found out that I had spoken to the WHD about how they were handling my FMLA. It's also entirely possible that they judged it differently because my teammate didn't know that the user was an impersonator, whereas I did know that the mother wasn't a company employee. Even so, it's hard for me to believe that this isn't influenced by what happened before.

    I would love to open a WHD complaint against them but they're offering me a severance. I can't afford not to take it. (There's the added complication that even though they've been using FMLA for me, I can't find if they have >50 employees in the home office. The closest I could find listed that they had "about 49.") I'd like to recoup the pay that I lost when they had me on unpaid leave, as well as the money that was in my HSA. Can I even negotiate my severance after something like this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    1,179

    Default Re: Fired After Fmla/ADA Trouble; Can I Negotiate Severance

    Your HSA 100% belongs to you -- there is no recoverying it because it belongs to you already -- they can't take it back -- it is nonforfeitable. (Unless there was some type of admin mistake where you were given too much)

    They owe you nothing for pay on unpaid leave....FMLA gives no paid leave, so I dont' see where that would be negotiable.

    You can always try to negotiate anything, but they can pull the severance package offer and leave you with nothing but a possible claim. And honestly I don't see retaliation if they have a company policy that you have been trained on regarding giving information out to someone that you KNEW wasn't the authorized user, an employee, etc.

    When you are in a pickle, I always tell employees to keep themselves and their work squeaky clean.... because you handed the employer a legitimate reason to terminate you....even if you think it was retaliation, all they need is ONE reason why it is not and they have that. (And what happened to the other employee doesn't really matter especially if they followed all company policies to give out the account password -- they can claim unwittingly doing so , whereas yours seems deliberate). Plus you gave out information that now can be used against them by this user/mother.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    8,004

    Default Re: Fired After Fmla/ADA Trouble; Can I Negotiate Severance

    Have you ever disclosed information regarding security breaches to anyone outside the company in the past? Is termination the normal resolution for the error your teammate made?

    I'm curious why they are offering you a severance at all. Unless you have a contract with a golden parachute clause, most companies aren't likely to offer severance when they fire someone for cause. You can try to negotiate your severance but it may backfire.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fired After Fmla/ADA Trouble; Can I Negotiate Severance

    Thank you for the replies! I was with the company for three and a half years and never had any issue with security breaches or disclosing information. We were never trained on it, but the general understanding was that you don't disclose information that the customer wouldn't already have access to. That's where I screwed up: the mother wouldn't have had access to any of it without me. It didn't matter that at that time none of us knew that there was an escalating situation. We'd never had it happen before, so I don't know if it would be the normal resolution or not.

    I think they're giving me a severance for a few reasons, but you guys are right -- there's really no reason for me to drag this out. I'll be glad that I was offered anything and move on.

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