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View Full Version : FIRED! Drinking a beer on sick leave with back pain


Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 04:06 PM
Yes, while on sick leave for back pain I went to a bar close to my place of work, after 2.5 weeks on my back and drank ONE beer. My boss has fired me! He says I should not have been "partying" close to my work place because it sets a bad example to the staff. He said I should have chosen somewhere further away from my work place. Only one member of staff frequents that bar - I would have more chance of being seen by staff members somewhere else, I didn't think I needed to hide. My doctor says it was fine to do. I couldn't sit down in the bar, only stand because of the pain, but I felt much better afterwards having rejoined the land of the living for a couple of hours, having a laugh and a joke and a beer. My mum is Irish and alcohol - especially whiskey has always been used in our family for medicinal purposes - probably since time began. I found it to have a numbing effect on the muscle spasms. What's annoying is that my boss is a binge drinker who delayed recovering from severe burns by going out and getting hammered, which resulted in his legs swelling up and him being unable to come to work - but hey - he owns the business. There are NO alcoholics in my family, and no teetotallers either. Who thinks that I'm justified in seeking to improve my condition with 2 hours of social interaction and one beer, and who thinks I'm not?

Giles
08-04-2006, 04:10 PM
It seems pretty unreasonable to me. Either he's equating your one beer with his excessive consumption of alcohol, or he sees it as some kind of evidence that your back pain isn't real. But exactly what you can do about it is going to depend on where you live.

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 04:17 PM
It seems pretty unreasonable to me. Either he's equating your one beer with his excessive consumption of alcohol, or he sees it as some kind of evidence that your back pain isn't real. But exactly what you can do about it is going to depend on where you live.

Thanks Giles, the Labour Department where I live say this is not grounds for dismissal so he will have to pay me compensation - or give me my job back which I don't want - it's a very small company. My boss argued with the Labour Commissioner (I was with the LC while he was on the phone to the boss - but I could only hear the LC) who had to remind the boss that I didn't write the sick notes myself and that he should respect the decisions of the professionals - so yes Giles I think you're right it must be that he doesn't think I'm injured. I'm in a really bad way with the pain and wonder when I will be able to work again. I injured it on the job lifting 33lb cases of chicken although it was a round of parmasan that was the straw that broke my back.

samclem
08-04-2006, 04:51 PM
NOt really a General Question.

Opinions can be found in IMHO.

Moved. samclem

tashabot
08-04-2006, 05:03 PM
Wow, that's messed up in a major way.

What you do when you're not at work, even on sick leave, isn't really their business. That's not a law, that's just an opinion of mine. I keep work and home strictly separated because I'd go nuts otherwise.

He's going to have to pay you compensation, you bet your ass. Labor comissioners don't take that shit lightly.

~Tasha

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 05:08 PM
NOt really a General Question.

Opinions can be found in IMHO.

Moved. samclem


Thanks and sorry - I wasn't sure where to post it.

astro
08-04-2006, 05:31 PM
If someone is letting you go on so thin a pretext, it suggests there might be a bit of history between you and your employer we aren't being made privvy to in the context of your example.

What Exit?
08-04-2006, 05:37 PM
I almost never say this, but maybe you should find a lawyer who specializes in labor law. It sounds like you were fired without fair reason.

It should not even matter is you were or were not justified in grabbing a beer or four at a bar.

Good Luck,
Jim

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 05:43 PM
If someone is letting you go on so thin a pretext, it suggests there might be a bit of history between you and your employer we aren't being made privvy to in the context of your example.

He has other gripes he listed in his letter of termination, but the Labour people said this is the only one with any grounds at all. Should I post the entire letter here (removing names etc).

The thing is I have hurt my back so I went back to work knowing I would have to discuss my duties since I could no longer lift stuff, and that possibly I wouldn't be able to work for him anymore because the job involves lifting. No chance for discussion - his first move was to give me the letter of termination.

But my question is still about going out and having a beer while on sick leave with bad back.

Renee
08-04-2006, 05:47 PM
Was this during business hours? And was it paid sick leave? Because if I was paying an employee to stay home because he was in too much pain to go to work, and then saw him in a bar instead, I wouldn't be too impressed. How did the boss even know you were at the bar? You say you only had one beer, and that's fine, but I don't really think that's the issue. The issue (for your boss) is probably that if you are well enough to go the the bar, you're well enough to go to work. And if other employees get the message that it's okay to take sick leave then be seen about town drinking, that isn't going to improve office productivity. I'm glad it made you feel better, but you really probably should have gone somewhere your boss/coworkers wouldn't see you.

Duke of Rat
08-04-2006, 05:49 PM
What you do when you're not at work, even on sick leave, isn't really their business. That's not a law, that's just an opinion of mine. I keep work and home strictly separated because I'd go nuts otherwise.

He's going to have to pay you compensation, you bet your ass. Labor comissioners don't take that shit lightly.

~Tasha

As long as you're not working.

I had to take some sick leave for back surgery a few years ago (not workman's comp) and my supervisor simply couldn't comprehend that my release date from the doctor didn't fit his schedule for my recovery. I went for a check-up, doctor said I'd be released August 16. I told my supervisor this. He insisted I call in every week with an update. "This is Duke, I'll be released August 16th". Same call, every week. August 16th didn't magically come any sooner. So he comes by my house, to make sure I haven't taken another job (I was on 60% salary while off). Nope, not working, nope, not August 16th yet.

We didn't get along anyway, but this drove him nuts. Luckily, his boss (the owner) and I were good buds.

Harriet the Spry
08-04-2006, 05:53 PM
I am an HR person, but in the US. The legal issues will vary by country, and by state within the US. I get the sense you're not in the US, so I don't have much to offer re: your particular situation. In the US, law varies from state to state regarding firing someone for legal activity outside of work. Anywhere in the US, an employer is running a legal risk if they fire someone in a way that appears retaliatory for taking leave and Workers Compensation for a work-related injury. It sounds like your Labour Commission is a good place to start, and maybe an attorney/solicitor/lawyer.

Harmonious Discord
08-04-2006, 05:57 PM
I had a messed up back for a week and on friday night I drank a iix pack. My muscles stoped spassing long enough to allow some resst and the next day the back was fine. It sounds more like a boss that pissed because you missed work, and had problems getting the work done. You put yourself on the spot when you went out to the bar. Bad judgement on that, now you have to prove you weren't faking.

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 06:03 PM
Renee "well enough to go the the bar, you're well enough to go to work"

Does this really make sense? This is the whole issue. I was well enough after two weeks to be driven to a bar, have a drink and be driven back to my home. Not recovered enough to even drive my own car. I am well enough to be driven to work and stand there for about an hour, then I'd have to go and lie down. I could sit at the computer for about an hour tops as the pain mounts.

Guinastasia
08-04-2006, 06:19 PM
Was this during business hours? And was it paid sick leave? Because if I was paying an employee to stay home because he was in too much pain to go to work, and then saw him in a bar instead, I wouldn't be too impressed. How did the boss even know you were at the bar? You say you only had one beer, and that's fine, but I don't really think that's the issue. The issue (for your boss) is probably that if you are well enough to go the the bar, you're well enough to go to work. And if other employees get the message that it's okay to take sick leave then be seen about town drinking, that isn't going to improve office productivity. I'm glad it made you feel better, but you really probably should have gone somewhere your boss/coworkers wouldn't see you.


Considering his job seems to involve heavy lifting, no, it's not "you're too sick to drink a beer."

Bippy the Beardless
08-04-2006, 06:28 PM
Considering his job seems to involve heavy lifting, no, it's not "you're too sick to drink a beer."
Well there is some sense that if you are well enough to go to a bar, you might be expected to do non-lifting work at work. Also if he was at the bar during what would otherwise be normal working hours that would seem even worse. Still it seems unreasonable for the boss to have done what he/she did on those grounds alone.

What country or state were you working in Barn Boo Gut ?

I_Know_Nothing
08-04-2006, 07:03 PM
He said I should have chosen somewhere further away from my work place.

This answered the question for me. You didn't get fired for drinking. You got fired for drinking at the wrong place? This makes absolutely no sense.

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 07:10 PM
I just don't get the reason for it not to be ok. I was glad to be back on my feet, be it only for a few hours. I was thinking along the lines of - hey good to see you up and about, hope you'll be able to come back to work soon - why was it wrong? I went to the supermarket, I went swimming - should I have been hiding?

I live in the Caribbean we have very strong labour laws. I work at a restaurant - opening from 7:30am - 10:30 at night. It was about 10pm. Why does the time matter? Why during working hours or not? Here the employer pays for your first 12 days sick, then the social pay you 40% and your boss can pay you 60% - optional - no one does it anymore, so it's not costing him anything now money wise. I hurt my back on the job - the doctor says get a lawyer - well I've never needed a lawyer before - do people really have to do this?

NinetyWt
08-04-2006, 07:32 PM
My husband is a government employee. If he is on sick leave, he may go to the doctor's office or the pharmacy. Period. Some leave policies are very strict. Did your place of employment have a written policy?

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 07:49 PM
This is what I don't understand - if he's well enough to go to the pharmacy - he's well enough etc etc - I just don't understand why these restrictions are placed on someone who's sick - you become a prisoner... what's the point? You'll heal better if cut off from society? Are people allowed to visit you?

NinetyWt
08-04-2006, 08:36 PM
I think the policy is strict so as to discourage people from abusing it. It's like a lot of laws which have sprung up because of a few "bad apples" of society. The point is, if you're sick enough to be off from work, and the goverment is still paying your salary, you'd better not be laying around on the beach, or at the football game, or the club.

I did notice something in your story about not getting paid, tho .. I'm curious as to what y'alls policy says (if anything).

Bam Boo Gut
08-04-2006, 08:39 PM
Aha! The doctor recommended rest, swimming and walking but not much. So, I've been to the beach every other day or so, mostly too zonked to go anywhere.

NinetyWt
08-04-2006, 08:59 PM
The plot thickens!

Harriet the Spry
08-05-2006, 09:27 AM
NinetyWt, such a policy for government employees may be as much due to public perception of abuse as well as due to address actual abuse. Many government employees have generous leave benefits in terms of getting paid while out due to genuine illness or injury. Especially for positions like public safety workers, this makes a lot of sense and is necessary to fill the positions. But even if the injury truly prevents someone from, say, working as a fireman (who wants a fireman limping to the rescue, after all?), taxpayers would take a dim view of seeing him on the beach while getting paid from the public purse. The general public is less likely to care if it is a restaurant worker.

To the OP's point, again, yes, people really do get lawyers involved in this type of thing. All. The. Time. If your legal rights have been violated, you are likely entitled to either payment of damages or reinstatement at your job or both. However, only lawyers in your locality can sort out if your legal rights were violated and what you may be entitled to. Strangers on a message board can agree with you "that sounds silly," but really can't answer your question. Whether you were morally in the right doesn't actually have that much bearing on whether you were legally in the right.

Contrapuntal
08-05-2006, 09:38 AM
The issue (for your boss) is probably that if you are well enough to go the the bar, you're well enough to go to work. Speaking as an ex-bartender, I have witnessed thousands of folks who were well enough to go to a bar. I wouldn't employ them to scrape gum off the bottom of my shoe.

Bam Boo Gut
08-05-2006, 12:08 PM
Exactly Contraputal, and Harriet you're right - I guess I've got a moral issue I can't shake. I do understand about abuse of sick leave - however since the doctor recommened swiming I was at the beach several times (there are only two swimming pools on the island and both need membership). Anyway, I've just found my employment letter which makes no mention of lifting squat shit - this may have some bearing. In his letter the boss states that I became unwilling to perform tasks - yes my back was starting to give way. He did advertize for warehouse person, but never took any on. But I'm digressing from the point. I guess I could have invited the lads round to my bedroom - in hindsight that would probably have been the best thing. Thank you all for responding, it's been very helpful - I'll post the results of this when I get them.

doreen
08-05-2006, 10:40 PM
This is what I don't understand - if he's well enough to go to the pharmacy - he's well enough etc etc - I just don't understand why these restrictions are placed on someone who's sick - you become a prisoner... what's the point? You'll heal better if cut off from society? Are people allowed to visit you? You clearly haven't worked with the sort of people I have. The type who call in sick when their leave request was denied because too many other people were already on approved leave, and the ones who call in sick because they've already used up all of their vacation. I've seen the more restrictive conditions (you only only leave home for treatment and you have to report when you're leaving and returning) only in certain government jobs which have unlimited, fully-paid sick leave. Other than that, I've seen people not paid for calling in sick leave when they call in sick and show up on the Kiss Cam at the baseball game, or when they called in sick for the week they wanted vacation and didn't have a doctor's note.

Bam Boo Gut
08-06-2006, 12:55 AM
I sympathise with the prospect of people abusing the system - but I live in a small place where I am well known for my work ethics. I guess I was just working for the wrong guy.