General Question

scamp's avatar

Is it time for me to look for a different job?

Asked by scamp (13134points) April 25th, 2008

As many of you know, I had extensive knee surgery in January, and I am still not back to work. I am the assistant manager in a podiatrist’s office, which means I do a little of everything there. A month ago, the surgeon said I could go back to work if I only do desk work because I am not able to walk without assistance yet.

My boss has an “all or nothing” stance about my return to work. He wants me to be able to do everything again when I return. Meanwhile, he has hired 3 temps to do the work I was doing. I saw the surgeon today, and I have improved, but not enough to be on my feet all day as I once was. He is preparing a statement saying I can return to work, but must not be on my feet more than 2 hours. My office is in the same building as the surgeon’s, and I went to see my boss after the appointment to update him on my progress. He still refuses to allow me to return to work with my present limitations. I’m not even sure if he can legally refuse my returning under the circumstances.

Since I am fully able to do a desk job, I was thinking of going to the hospital to apply for an administrative job there. That way I can work, and the physical demands will be tolerable to my condition. Do you think it would be in my best interest to seek other employment, or wait until I am fully healed and go back to my present job? Also, do you have any suggestions on what I should apply for? I do the billing and coding and surgical scheduling on my present job, among other things.

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27 Answers

Bri_L's avatar

I have questions before I answer actually. Do you think you would endanger your current position by applying somewhere else in the same hospital? Would it do anything to your seniority?

scamp's avatar

I work in private practice, not at the hospital. I think if I took a job at the hospital I would have to think of it as a permanent solution. So yes, I would lose seniority and pretty much be starting all over again. That’s a big part of why I am not sure what to do.

wildflower's avatar

I think Bri raises a valid point. If your current boss is a bit inflexible, he may not respond well to you applying elsewhere. Having said that, I can totally understand youre eager to get to work again so if you’re clear and OK with potential consequences, no harm in looking at alternatives – see what’s out there. Also, since you’ve had major surgery, it may be better going forward to have a job with less impact on your knees. That’s my 2 cents.

scamp's avatar

I guess you’re right. I have some time left on my disability, so my boss isn’t expecting me to return for another month. I am wondering if I should try out the hospital job without telling him. That way, I would still have the old job to fall back on if it doesn’t work out for me. It’s just so scary thinking about doing something different. I have a month to think about this tho. I just wanted to bounce it off of the wise council here to get ideas.

Trustinglife's avatar

Manage fear first, grasshopper.
Job second.

trogdor_87's avatar

Do what’s best for you, in both body and mind. Its your life, live it to the fullest.

Babo's avatar

A podiatrist, for heavens sake! I would think he’d be a bit more sympathetic!!! Maybe he’s afraid you’ll reinjure yourself at work and sue him.

kevbo's avatar

Your boss is entitled to his opinion, but you have defensible rights, and you should find out what those are, especially if you are closing in on retirement. If they’re legally required to accommodate you and it’s your decision to stay, that’s just the way it goes then. Don’t get bullied.

scamp's avatar

@Babo no. Workman’s comp wouldn’t be an issue becasue i didn’t get injured on the job. it would be considered and exsisting injury.

@kevbo I’m not even close to retirement age just yet. I think looking into the legalities in my state would be a good idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

Bri_L's avatar

if you want to go back to work and are ready to, maybe you could talk to your boss. If he says he will not have you back, ask if he has any objections to your seeking other employment, within the hospital, to bridge the gap until you meet his requirements.

scamp's avatar

Now that’s a thought! Great idea Bri. Thanks! That should make him make up his mind one way or another, wouldn’t it?

Bri_L's avatar

It also establishes for the record:
your desire to return for work,
your haveing discussed it with him,
your wanting to still work with him and or there
but needing and or wanting to work in the hospital if he wont cooportate

scamp's avatar

That’s so true. Plus if he is free to hire 3 people to fill in for me, I should be free to find other employment until he is ready to allow me to return to work. I just can’t understand his thinking. He is paying out much more money by having 3 people in my place, where all he would have to do is allow me to do the desk work, and keep one of the temps for the more physical stuff. When I was there today, the work was stacked very high. He has all those people who have no idea what they are doing. he is losing alot of money that way. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

My surgeon is writing up a letter for me with my limitations. I should ask him to request an answer in writing so I have some kind of record of all of this. It might help me with legalities if it comes down to that. or maybe I will e-mail my boss so I will have his reply in writing. I wonder if that would hold up if this goes to court. what do you think?

BTW, he does know I am willing to come back. He came for a meeting with my surgeon and I a month ago, and the surgeon told him I could come back to work that very day if I could do desk work. Hmm, so I guess that means if it does come down to a legal battle, the surgeon could be a witness to this, right?

Bri_L's avatar

You definatly want as much in writing as possible.

scamp's avatar

I think so too. I’m going to work on that just to “cover my butt” as much as possible just in case.

Trustinglife's avatar

Court sucks.
If I were in your shoes, I’d do whatever I could to work it out with my boss, and move on if he continued being obstinate. Also, I’m remembering that you said you just didn’t understand his thinking about why he doesn’t want you back yet. I’d suggest getting curious, simply having a fact-finding conversation with him. See if you can find out where he’s coming from.

scamp's avatar

We are having a meeting about this the end of next week. I will keep your sugesstions in mind. With this in mind, I hope to hear more thoughts and ideas on how to discuss this with him. Many thanks to all who have responed so far. It’s been very helpful. I want to go to this meeting with a well prepared plan.

kevbo's avatar

Also, if you’re being asked nicely to leave, and it seems like a good idea, maybe negotiate for a severance in return for not making things difficult. Just a thought.

scamp's avatar

Thanks kev. But the odd thing is I don’t know for sure that is what is happening,.He calls me at least twice a week and asks me when I am coming back. I say I could come in tomorrow, and I get the all or nothing speech again. He makes me dizzy!

Any idea what I should ask for? I have never negotiated a severance package before. is it based on a certain per centage, or should i just ask for a set fee?

kevbo's avatar

I never have either, but this looks potentially like a situation where one might be possible. Bear in mind I have zero experience with that kind of negotiation, but I do hear “6 months” or “a year” as examples (with or without benefits as options as well). I would also imagine that the dollar range would go from zero to whatever it would end up costing your employer to pursue/defend this through the legal system.

A friend of mine worked his way out of a job this way once, and he had another accountant/wheeler-dealer type friend negotiate it for him (for a fee, I’m sure). That worked pretty well for the friend in question.

My other observation is that your boss doesn’t seem to know what the hell he wants (independent of his evaluation of you as a quality employee). Either that, or he’s purposely trying to make things difficult by having you jump through imaginary hoops. Maybe the solution is for you to figure out how to restructure the workload in a way that makes all parties happy and present it to him (possibly feeding it to him as if it were his idea).

If he’s sending mixed messages, and you’re finding yourself not able to read his mind, then you need to make him articulate a coherent position on the matter, either delicately or not so.

scamp's avatar

We have discussed restructuring the workload. I have discussed this with him in private, and during the meeting with my surgeon. He stands firm in not budging and inch on this. My standpoint is I refuse to ruin the work the surgeon did, and possibly losing my knee for a job that shows me so little consideration. It’s not worth giving up my ability to walk because I went back too soon.

I’m thinking that he may want me to get frustrated and quit, so he won’t have to pay my unemployment. He probably isn’t happy that I have been out of commission so long, and he has to pay three people to take my place. Common sense tells me he could stop paying two of them if I came back to do the desk work. And here is another reason why he seems so ignorant. My office manager just left last Friday on Maternity leave. So wouldn’t it make sense to have me there especially now?

I just got a big raise before I had the surgery, so it’s not like he has wanted to fire me for some other reason. I think I will do a job search, and once I have the offer of another job, I will mention it to him while we negotiate. That should get him to shit or get off the pot, pardon my french. Thanks for your help.

srmorgan's avatar

A couple of observations:
Bear in mind that employment law and disability law can, from the employer’s perspective, be a minefield where you don’t know what might happen if you take the wrong step.

You did not mention your state of residence as that can greatly affect what your rights might be as an employee.

You appear to be working at a small employer, not many employees. I believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to employers with less than 15 employees. State laws may be different.

You are also not going to be covered by the FMLA (Family something or other leave act) as your employer has less than 50 employees at this location, and I assume there are no other locations that might put you over the 50 employee threshhold.

You state that you are on disability, which I assume is short-term, Is it state provided or employer provided. In some states, employers are required to carry STD,or there is a state plan in effect. In some states disability is not mandatory and uncommon. Consider yourself lucky that you have it. My company is in a small town in southeastern North Carolina and many larger employers in our town do NOT carry it, but we pay it for our employees.

I am having a hard time understanding your boss’s point of view, especially in view of the office manager going out on maternity leave and the horror stories he is having juggling temporary help who don’t know what they are doing.
But BABO has a point: even if you are coming off an operation with an obvious disability and recuperation period, if you were to re-injure yourself and exacerbate your injury while on the job, you could have a claim for worker’s compensation because it happened at the workplace. Worker’s compensation premiums are based on three factors: salary, job classification and it’s associated rate (office clericals are rated lower than truck drivers for example) and the experience rating of the employer which is usually tracked on a scale of .88 to 1.30. The experience rating, if poor, can increase worker’s compensation premiums by up to 30% depending on the factor. And these rates also vary by state, California is going to be higher than Mississippi for example.
That may be a very real fear for your employer and might explain his behavior.

It could be something simple as he doesn’t want you back if you are not fully ready to work because he does not want to go through another period of disability leave if you something causes a setback for you if you are not fully recovered.

I would try to clear the air with this guy.

One other thing: you have every right to look for another job any time you want. You are not restricted because you are employed by this guy. If you are looking in the medical profession and it is an insular community in your town, you might want to be discreet. If you live in a mid-sized city , I wouldn’t worry about it.

But one word of caution, if you get another job offer and hold it in front of his face, he might react by congratulating you and wishing you the best of luck at the new place. Over the years I have learned that if someone threatens me with looking for another job, I am going to assume that I will lose that person at some point in the future. Some people may seek new jobs in order to get some leverage at their current workplace, but in the end if they are so dissatisfied that they go looking for something else, then they already have one foot out the door. That is my perspective as an employer, but everyone is different.


scamp's avatar

Thank you so much srmorgan. That was very helpful. We are a small practice, with only 6 employees for 2 offices, which is part of the reason why I carried so many duties there. I am in the state of New Jersey and I will research the labor laws and workman’s comp guidelines before talking to him. I am receiving disability from the state, but it is barely enough to get by on, so I do need to do something soon.

At this point, if I did receive another job offer, and he congratulated me, I would thank him and take it. I think working for a bigger company with more benefits may be beneficial for me. But if I am able to stay on at my present job, I have some very good ideas to make it better for all concerned. Thanks again to everyone who offered advice in this thread. It has helped tremendously.

scamp's avatar

Update: I have decided to apply for a new job. I applied for a position at the lab my SO works in. He told me about the job before it was even posted, so there is a good chance I will get it. The supervisor said he will watch for my resume, and give it VIP treatment. It’s strictly desk work, so I should have no trouble doing it no matter what happens with my knee. Since it is a large company, the benefits are tremendous, and they pay is even more than what I currently make.

I am planning on taking the job if offered while I continue to heal. It’s second shift, so I could work part time at my current job once i am able to return and go directly to the lab from there. That way I can buy myself some time to see which one I like better for long term.

For right now, I am leaning towards the lab job because SO and I plan to move to Florida in August, and it has branches all over the country, so I could transfer. Even if I haven’t been there long enough to transfer directly, I would have a better chance because I will have some experience.

I’m getting pretty excited about this. Wish me luck!!

wildflower's avatar

Thanks for the update. And best of luck with the job hunt!
....sending thoughts of success out in to the universe for ya ;)

scamp's avatar

Thanks! I need all the good vibes I can get right now.

Trustinglife's avatar

Good luck!

Feels right. Thanks for letting us know your progress. Feel free to update us again on how it goes!

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