Human Resources is Not Your Friend

Art: Robin Mead

If you are working and dealing with disability or chronic illness, please be careful and informed when speaking with your employer’s insurance company or human resource department.

Please learn your rights and don’t make the mistake of thinking that these people are your friends or have your best interest in mind.

Stories from readers who were kind enough to share their experiences to warn others:

Cheryl’s Story

My employer was a government agency. When my Short Term Disability ran out, they had their Risk Manager call me (supposedly to discuss possible workplace accommodations for my disability).

It was clear I could not return to work as an RN, even with accommodations. So I asked about next steps. The Risk Manager said that the only way I would qualify for Long Term Disability was if my doctor expected me to be able to return to work within two months. If that was not the case, he assured me that resigning was the only option.

I was so sick and foggy and tired, but still wanting to leave on good terms, so I put in a letter of resignation. I thought my husband would remained gainfully employed, so we would be OK.

A year later my hubby had a failed back surgery and now we are both disabled. The bottom line is I had no idea how our circumstances would change.

Later when I realized my mistake, the attorneys said there was nothing they could do because I resigned. I checked with three different attorneys and all said the same thing: resigning let the disability insurance company off the hook!

My advice to others: Fight for the disability benefits to which you are entitled. If the process seems intimidating, ask a family member, friend or disability advocate to help you. Every bit of income helps with our crazy out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Mayflower’s Story

I, too, regret ever speaking up. I worked for a small business so there was no HR, just the doctor owners. My annual performance reviews were glowing, I never called in as unwell, and my Christmas cards notes they wrote to me were beyond complimentary in all I had achieved for them.

I was struggling and I asked, informally, if they would consider entertaining a possible request for FMLA. Suddenly, it was official and I was being presented my “options”: My leave would be granted, but no guarantee would be made as to my work schedule when I returned.

I said: Never mind. I was simply inquiring not yet asking formally.

Then, I found myself stuck in a room with them for 2 hours going in circles. They said: Either I signed their “offer” with no guarantees or I would be immediately terminated.

In the end, I let them fire me then had to threaten with a lawyer so at least I could get unemployment. Lesson learned – talk to no one. About anything. Ever. Not even coworkers. No one is your friend.

Violet’s Story

I regret ever talking to my Human Resources person.

I asked about disability options, and HR retaliated with a letter saying I was a terrible employee. After that, I was required to notify them a week in advance when I would be sick, and for how long.

I finally walked out, went to my primary care doctor, and she pulled me out of work indefinitely. HR responded saying I had violated the FMLA terms by not giving estimates on how long and how often I would be sick. That’s when I pulled the lawyer card, and meant it. I got 12 weeks unpaid leave for FMLA and am now on Long Term Disability. I’m also dying.

HR acted like my friend, and then came at me like a barracuda. The HR person used to work at Nike, so she was pretty cutthroat, but I WON! Twelve weeks without pay was awful, but now I have income, hopefully until 2040. Although I will be lucky to survive this year.


Bougainvillea’s Story

Oh my God, this is the exact same thing happened to me! I was working for a school district and they said they would work with me on accommodations. My boss said I could work remotely.

Then the Human Resources people made me do an accommodations process and made me put in my resignation early, before they would consider my requests. They made it sound like I would be accommodated.

After they had my resignation letter, they denied me all accommodations and said the process was over so I should just quit.

I stupidly sued them for unemployment for 10 months. I should have sued them for Long Term Disability, but it’s too late now, because I asked my doctor to sign a note saying I should look for other types of work. I have been completely unable to work since that time.

Requesting Workplace Accommodations

If you are requesting disability accommodations in your workplace, it is always a good idea to do this in writing along with doctor’s documentation. This way you will have a paper trail and be eligible for protections if any problems come up later: Sample Letter for Requesting a Disability Accommodation in the Workplace

Thanks for Reading

🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Guide to Social Security Disability 

🌷 Learn more about this topic here: How to Avoid Getting Screwed Over if Your Employer Offers LTD

🌷 And here: Resignations: A Disability Claim No-No

🌷 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌷 Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

🌷 If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

3 thoughts on “Human Resources is Not Your Friend”

  1. I AGREE! HR is not there to help you! I’m going through a battle with my employer of over 14 years. They allowed someone to bully me…you ask…why didn’t i just quit…?? I stand to lose my pension, as I’m closer to retirement now…My doctors have submitted paperwork for work mans comp, STD, ADA accommodations and they have all been denied! They even asked me why haven’t I just quit and sued them!!!


  2. Never forget that any part of any company that’s tied to short or long term disability has Banks of lawyers looking out for them – their interest! They are not there to do you any favors. Actually, if they have to pay out, it hurts their bottom line. They are only responsible to their shareholders! So I would not speak to anybody over the phone. I would make them email or mail you, because at least that way you have everything in writing and it’s documented.

    Liked by 1 person

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