asked 12 months ago

Author: Ann Sasso

I have been at my employer full time for 10 years. I am about six weeks in on a two month medical leave of absence (FMLA). About one month prior to my medical leave I filed a worker’s compensation claim for unrelated work injuries.
I am the only person in my position. My workload was heavy for several years and I made multiple requests that they hire someone to help. The understanding was that when the timing was right, they would hire someone that I would manage.
The other day I received an email from my boss stating that they decided there was a need to hire someone in my department. The issue is that they are insisting that this new hire be located in our Texas office (I am in California) and the expectation is that I will manage them and train them. They have also already decided which projects this position will work on (so in reality, I am not managing this person, I am only training them). The projects they’ve defined for this person are newer, more interesting projects where I will continue to work on existing projects that are being phased out.
This company is systematically moving positions in the California office to the Texas office. I see the writing on the wall that when this person is up to speed, my position will be eliminated and I will be laid off. I am angry because I know what they are doing and I don’t feel that I can return to work and be used like that after I devoted 10 years of my life to them. I also find the timing interesting. I think they realized how things can fall apart when I am gone, so they need a backup, which is completely understandable. But insisting this position be in Texas and I train and manage them remotely is not realistic logistically, so their motives are clear. They have also not respected that I am out on medical leave. Several issues have come up and I was required to work from home while sick, delaying my recovery and extending my leave by several weeks.
What rights do I have? I honestly don’t care if I am laid off, but I would like to do it on my terms and not be “blindsided” when they decide to let me go. Should I negotiate a separation agreement/settlement now before I am released to return to work? I feel that if I don’t do it before I return to work, I will be stuck. My terms would be that I will fully train this new person and be available on-call as a consultant after the training as needed. I would request a generous severance (min. one year) and at least one year of paid medical insurance on my current plan.

Can I do this in a way that won’t jeopardize my employment? I want them to know I see what is happening (they’ve done it to others, so I know). How can I broach the subject with them? Any advice you have would be most helpful.