I have a long history of major depressive disorder. I've been under a psychiatrist's care and we have determined a Family Medical Leave Absence is necessary immediately.

I work for a smallish company (75+ employees) with no secrets, so I fully expect the reason for my leave will become common knowledge. The greatest factor contributing to my current medical status is the stress I have been trying to cope with at work. I'm an internal federal auditor and it's been made abundantly clear to me my findings are to be documented, but I have no authority to mandate changes. Over the past year I've repeatedly initiated conversations with BOTH HR and my supervisor regarding the processes and attitudes in place which prohibit me from being successful in this position. This has resulted in a challenging working relationship with my supervisor and I fully expect my employer to begin to take steps to terminate me for poor performance when they are notified of my FMLA status tomorrow. I'm also fully aware this fight will come down to "he said/she said" due to an absurdly open-ended and vague job description my supervisor wrote (which wasn't documented until 10 months after my hire and contains no measurable performance metrics).

My question is this: I'm in no condition to put up a fight right now, yet I can't afford (financially or emotionally) to just roll over and let this happen. I know I'll eventually have to retain an attorney; however, I'd like to hold off on that as long as possible for financial reasons.

What steps can I take now to protect my own interests and not inadvertently damage my case down the line?

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    I know lawyers are expensive. But don't they also have a deterrent effect of pointing out your position's strengths early on in the battle and thereby potentially stopping actions by the other party earlier on? And in addition being fully aware of your position may make your decision making and plan of attack much easier. – Preet Sangha Aug 8 '14 at 4:49
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    Maybe I am naive about what an auditor does, but I always thought their job was nothing but documentation and looking for problems. They identify problems not fix them. – maple_shaft Aug 8 '14 at 11:54
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    @maple_shaft, I spent five years in an audit agency and yes that is indeed the job description of an auditor.They can make recommendations for solutions but are not ever involved in the actual management of the business or govenrment agency they audit as that would be a conflict of interest. – HLGEM Aug 8 '14 at 13:15
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    I've been in this line of work for 24 yrs ... I'm intimately familiar with what I do. HLGEM ... I'm an INTERNAL audit, not external I'm obligated to identify the problem, document it, develop a remediation plan to monitor the cure. I then work with the stake holders to develop a plan. Otherwise, my report is "Uneven tire wear". And the stake holder goes and buys new tires when what he really needs is a front end alignment. And then I'm called on the carpet about why the fix didn't work. Thx for the input. Think I have all the answers I need here, gonna go change the tires myself. – user26015 Aug 8 '14 at 23:48

The Family Medical Leave Act is designed to protect you and your job where a medical or family event leaves you unfit to perform your duties. It is considered a short-term disability.

To answer your question about how to protect yourself, it really is as simple as keeping documentation and records of correspondence regarding any and all converstations you have with your supervisor about this condition or the leave of absence, keeping any and all medical documentation regarding your condition provided by healthcare providers, and fulfilling any and all obligations you are told to do in a timely manner.

Basically, keep good records just in case anything gets challenged or something bad happens. There is nothing more that you can really do until you are actually under attack.

Some advice I will give in conjunction with this is that you would be wise to not jump to so many wort case scenarios so quickly. You will only cause yourself more stress. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder so I am very susceptible to letting my mind race and compile hundreds of worst case scenarios that plague my mind and pollute my ability to logically reason. Here are some things that help calm my mind when I find myself getting caught in this spiral...

  • Worst case predictions predicated on other worst case predictions are exponentially less likely to happen
  • In considering the next possible thing that will happen, what is the simplest, least complex and most common result?
  • People are far more likely to be and do things based on ignorance than they are to do things based on malice.
  • When you anticipate the worst case scenario then you might be influencing it to actually happen that way

Try to be less defensive and divorce yourself from the problems you have with your job. It sound like you may be coming off as combative to your supervisor. Consider if your supervisor doesn't like you not because of your ideas but because of how you are trying to communicate and address the problems that occur around you.

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