Aug 4, 2009

No Job For You Even Under Family Medical Leave Act !

A colleague forwarded me a link to a 7 on your side story about a DCPS employee who is still awaiting her job after taking medical leave. When I went to the WJLA site I was surprised when I watched the video of the DCPS employee, Sheila Jefferson who was writing to Channel 7 to appeal for help in getting reinstated to her job. I met Ms. Jefferson many years ago when I first entered DC Public Schools. My heart went out to her after learning that she had to request medical leave in order to care for her 19 year old son when he was diagnosed with cancer. Having a 19 year old son myself- I can only imagine the heartache she must have felt when faced with this life challenge.

Federal programs like the Family Medical Leave Act were designed to give all of us some assurance that when we leave our jobs on medical leave to care for our loved ones our jobs will be there when we return to work. This did not happen for Sheila Jefferson. To date, DCPS under the Rhee administration has not re-instated Ms. Jefferson to her job as required by law. If the Rhee administration's arbitrary termination of hundreds of workers often without due process doesn't make you sick, then I am sure this story will. One things for sure, if we all live long enough we are likely to face a medical problem that will force us to request leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. We can only hope that when we are ready to return to work we will get better treatment than 28 year DCPS veteran Sheila Jefferson. I also couldn't help but wonder why Ms. Jefferson's union isn't representing her interests in this matter ?

Here's the video courtesy of WJLA:

D.C. Public Schools Employee Fights for Job

"7 is On Your Side with a woman who is asking for help getting her job back. The D.C. Public Schools employee wants to know why she's been forced to wait seven months to report back after taking some time off from work. The employee says she was promised her job would be there when she was ready to return but says she's now getting the runaround. After 28 years of working for D.C. Public Schools, she says she deserves better treatment. Sifting through stacks of paper, Sheila Jefferson shows records of the last year of her life dealing with D.C. Public Schools. Jefferson says she's two months behind on rent and her car was just recently repossessed.

"It has been rough," she said. "As of today I still don't know how I'm going to make it." Battling medical issues last August, Jefferson took sick leave from her job as an administrative assistant. Records show the administration approved time off from the end of August through the beginning of January but at the end of November, the unthinkable happened: Jefferson's 19-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. "All I could do is collapse to the floor and I cried," she said. The diagnosis forced Jefferson to ask for advanced sick leave. She says the school system granted her 240 additional hours in mid-December, giving her six weeks to care for her son as he underwent treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. "If she would have stayed working I don't think she would have been able to care for me as much as she has been," said Jerome Boyd, Jefferson's son. In January, concerned about mounting bills, Jefferson told human resources she was ready to return to work. Now at the end of July, she is still without a position or any promise that she will ever get her job back. "[They say], 'Don't worry because we will take care of you,' but I have worried because they have not taken care of me," she said. "I've actually sat there and watched my mom walk into human resources and come back out with tears in her eyes because they haven't called her back," said Boyd. "She hasn't gotten a payroll check; she doesn't know how we're going to pay for my medications and things like that."

7 On Your Side did speak to a spokesperson for D.C. Public Schools who says they are looking into the issue but cannot comment on any personnel matter. On Your Side also contacted the Ombudsman for public education in the District . They say they plan to reach out to Jefferson to make sure she is being treated fairly. "

Posted by The Washington Teacher, video/story courtesy of


Anonymous said...

Ms. Jefferson probably belongs to a union with a leader like George Parker of the teachers union. Some call him Chicken George.

Good thing Ms. Jefferson took matters into her own hands.

Anonymous said...

This is a horrible story and I hope Ms. Jefferson is reassigned to a school immediately. And btw, where are the AYP scores from OSSEE? They were supposed to be posted today and I see nothing at this time. Maybe later today? This is so irresponsible.

RedeemedSpirit said...

This scares me because I am scheduled to take maternity leave in October. I wonder if my job still be there when I plan to return in January?

Anonymous said...

Correction most call him "Chicken Shit" George Parker.