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He's got the shakes
February 15, 2013 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Can an employer force you to use your insurance (and obviously pay the co-pay and everything) for a test they will probably use as fodder to fire you, especially if the medical condition could possibly be related to the chemicals you have to use for job.

My dad has been working for a manufacturing company for 37 years. Since the company changed hands it seems like management has been trying to find ways to fire the older employees. They have recently started going after my dad for a problem he has with his hands. He has hand tremors and has for as long as I can remember, he's seen a neurologist for it years ago, and the neurologist said there was nothing wrong.

They required him to go see their doctor to get himself medically qualified to work. He went and he got cleared to go back to work. While he was there he apparently signed a paper giving his company access to all of his medical records. Now they are trying to get his to set up an appointment with his primary care physician so that he can get a referral to a neurologist to have him tested again.

Is his company allowed to make him use his insurance (which he does not get through his company) to get a test that they will then probably use as fodder to fire him?

Also for what it’s worth the chemicals he uses on a daily basis list hand tremors among the possible side affects to contact on their MSDS sheets.

I’m not so much worried about him failing the physical but my dad has a real hard time keeping his temper and I think that this is less about his physical capabilities and more to do with them trying to push his buttons until he does something insubordinate enough to get himself fired.

He’s in PA if that matters, I’m just trying to see if there is something he can do or say that will kind of stop them from going down this road.
posted by timesarrow to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
He absolutely needs to talk to his union rep. If he's not in a union (or if they're not on the side of the older employees), he needs to consult with an employment lawyer.
posted by griphus at 6:19 AM on February 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also for what it’s worth the chemicals he uses on a daily basis list hand tremors among the possible side affects to contact on their MSDS sheets.

Shoot, if this is true I'm wondering if your father shouldn't be considering beating them to the punch and suing them for giving him the hand tremors. However, I am neither a doctor nor a lawyer, and agree with griphus that a lawyer is who he should be talking to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on February 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


He can revoke the medical release in writing to the doctor.

And, as above, he can talk to his union rep and a lawyer asap.
posted by mibo at 6:27 AM on February 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yup, get with an employment lawyer asap. PA is a good place to be if you're in a worker vs employer issue. Good labor laws up there.

Now, here's my question. How old is your Dad? If he's over 65, why not retire, take a pension AND social security? If he's younger, then he needs to dig in his heels and and fight.

Have a talk with him regarding his temper. It will do him no favors here. Perhaps he can attend an anger management class to help learn some strategies so that he doesn't lose it and get fired.

But before the sun sets today, get a lawyer, because if he initiates, he's in a better position than if he does it after he's been let go.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:33 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Employers are generally permitted to force their employees to get qualifying medical exams at the employers' own expense.

If he's in a union, he needs to talk to them immediately, but I see this going to an employment lawyer pretty quickly. The union should definitely be the first place, as they may have grievance procedures for dealing with this sort of thing, or even a stable of employment lawyers they work with. Even if they don't, they'll be able to point you towards a plaintiff-side employment lawyer who can work with your dad.

Know this: plaintiff-side lawyers representing retail plaintiffs like your dad do not generally require cash up front. They usually get paid if they win (either a judgment or a settlement), either by taking a cut of the total recovery or by a fee-shifting provision in an applicable statute. If this winds up being a federal case--and it well might be, if there's discrimination based on age or disability--then the applicable federal statutes do provide for an award of attorney fees in favor of the party being discriminated against. So don't worry about being able to afford a lawyer.
posted by valkyryn at 6:37 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny, my dad's 54, but if he makes it to 40 years with the company he can retire with full benefits, that's why I'm trying to see if we can make it that long

also I hesitate to go with suing them for causing them because my aunts and uncles have the same problem, though no where near as bad as my dad
posted by timesarrow at 7:08 AM on February 15, 2013


Your dad should revoke his company's access to his medical records ASAP (I can't even believe they even tried that; it's insane!) and get a lawyer asap and (if applicable) talk to a union rep asap. He should not have any private meetings with company people without recording the meeting or having a third party there. He should get copies of the MDS sheets for all the chemicals he works with, and print-out all copies of emails, signed documents, etc. for safe keeping.

It does sound like they're on a witch-hunt. If that's so, document document document. And even if it isn't, document document document. I mean everything: even phone logs, emails, etc. If it's written down, save it. If it's said in a conversation, presume it holds NO weight until it's in writing.

Good luck.
posted by absquatulate at 7:15 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


also I hesitate to go with suing them for causing them because my aunts and uncles have the same problem, though no where near as bad as my dad

"Cause" can also mean "exacerbate." Let a lawyer tell you that you don't have a case. Hell, let two or three lawyers tell you that before you stop.
posted by Etrigan at 8:14 AM on February 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seeing a lawyer to get advice is not the same thing as suing someone.

MetaFilter is not your lawyer. Go see one in your jurisdiction to find out what your dad can and can not do in this situation.

Your aunts and uncles should do the same if they feel pressured or harassed.

Lawyer. Stat.

At the very least, a lawyer can help your dad revoke the medical record permission in writing.

Lawyer. Now.
posted by jbenben at 9:05 AM on February 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Employers are generally permitted to force their employees to get qualifying medical exams at the employers' own expense.

They required him to go see their doctor to get himself medically qualified to work. He went and he got cleared to go back to work.


This is bullshit. A doctor cleared him for work. Period. They want him to see a neurologist--unless they can prove he has serious neurological problems, or that the tremors are causing a dangerous situation for him or coworkers, or are affecting his productivity, I can't see how they can claim he needs to see another doctor.

Try to figure ways to help your dad to keep his cool and cover his butt with this. Copy the original doctors approval and present it AGAIN. Revoke permission to see medical records NOW. See a lawyer, STAT, as jbenben says. I'll just bet the lawyer hits the roof.

Maybe the union needs to look into this--could be there's a class action suit if this is their modus with their older workers.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:32 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


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