In 2009 I developed fibromyalgia and depression. Work became a real struggle and I had to go off sick due to pain and tiredness, but also because I was being bullied by my manager. I broke down and was signed off work.
Recently I tried to get back to work under the company’s return to work policy. I intended to build my hours up gradually. However, I was made to re-sit all my exams and pass them by a certain date. I was allowed no help and if I did not pass I would lose my job. Not surprisingly, I was signed off again and have been unable to work since. I have been caused so much distress by my employers that I would like to sue them. I really want them out of my life.
I receive income protection under a company scheme but the company are now threatening to review that and obtain an assessment by an independent doctor.
Finally, I have three critical illness insurance policies.
I need your help.
It sounds as though your employers want to ease you out of the business without sacking you. I imagine they could do this on ill health grounds but for some reason do not wish to do so. They do lay themselves open to a possible claim for personal injuries because of the bullying and workplace stress that you have had to suffer at their hands. These are very difficult cases to win, however, and at the very least I would suggest that you ensure that you have a good source of funding the legal costs before embarking on such a course. You may have a union who would be willing and able to support a claim. Alternatively, you might have legal expenses insurance. This is commonly found in house contents policies. It is certainly worth checking. If your union or legal expenses insurer were prepared to instruct us to act on your behalf we would be pleased to do so.
You are still being paid under the income protection scheme, although it sounds as though that is under threat. If the independent doctor prepares a report which stops you receiving the income protection, it is open to you to obtain a report of your own (or instruct a solicitor such as ourselves to obtain such a report) which may counter the damage done by the “independent” doctor instructed by your company or their insurers.
The critical illness policies may be of considerable help to you. It depends what the criteria are under the policies. It is highly unlikely that fibromyalgia will be named as one of the illnesses, but you could still claim under it if you satisfy the definition of “total permanent disability”. If you do (or think you do) I would suggest that you contact us and we will see whether we can bring successful claims for you under these policies. “Total permanent disability” is often defined as an inability to work up to and including your normal retirement date. However, sometimes it is defined as an inability to do three out of six tasks unassisted. You will need to look at the policies and if you have any difficulty understanding them, please send them through to us to look at for you.
This question was originally published in Fibromyalgia Magazine