do I have any rights here?

I suffer from a diagnosed mood disorder. It is under a doctor’s care and usually stable. I have also been sober from all substances for the past 9 years. I chose to stop due to its negative effect on my illness. That was until a few weeks ago. I was extremely depressed and long story short ended up taking a drink during work hours. I was questioned because my mood seemed off and I admitted that I had and said that I wanted help. I was told by my boss that I am extremely valued and cared about and that it would be handled by me taking an FMLA leave but I had to get help. I got myself into a mental health and addiction residential program the next day. I was told by my boss again to take care of myself, and they would be in touch soon. While in the 3 week treatment program I filed for my FMLA with Sedgewick the 3rd party that handles our FMLA and medical leaves. They contacted me and told me the case had been closed because they were advised that I had been terminated. I called my boss and other people on the management team and left several voicemails. No one has called me back, left a voicemail, sent an e-mail or letter, or even a text I am shocked and hurt to find out that after over a year of excellent work at this company, rebuilding the program from the gutter up and having no previous issues ever before there that I had to find out that I was fired through a 3rd party and while I was in treatment. Now am I wondering if I have any rights. I was told and have texts to show I was told to take FMLA and get treatment. I was not notified by anyone that I was terminated. This is a single-never anything close to this happening before incident and addiction/mental health is recognized as a disease. At this point I am so saddened by the whole thing that I’d rather just move on. Can I collect unemployment at the very least? Are they in anyway in the wrong besides just seeming like crappy uncaring people?

Asked on October 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you had not taken a drink during work hours, you most likely could not be fired in thia way. Unfortunately, you write that you did take a drink; an employer may terminate an employee for drinking during work, even if the employee had an addiction or other medical condition which led to the drink, and even if they wanted to or had applied for FMLA leave. Because of the risk of disruption and liability posed by employees drinking during work, employers may take a hard line about this and terminate employees for this conduct. You will most likely be ineligible for unemployment benefits because drinking during work would be grounds for termination "for cause," which means them at the employee cannot receive unemployment.

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