July 2021

Join Us for GAE Rights at Night
July 20 at 6 pm

Topic: Understanding Implicit Bias
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Fulton County Win!
“I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and under a lot of stress. Fulton County Schools added to it by deducting sick leave I used during the year, so I had less FMLA leave for my chemo-therapy sessions. I knew it wasn’t fair. That’s when I called GAE legal services.”
The GAE member, let’s call her Caring Educator, is going through a stressful time having recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Caring Educator needed support from her school system, and she certainly didn’t need more stress. But Caring Educator’s stress levels went through the roof when Fulton County Schools told her that she had far fewer paid sick leave days for life-saving chemo-therapy sessions. Thinking back during the school year, Caring Educator knew that she used sick leave when she wasn’t feeling well. Nothing was unusual or so it seemed.
After her diagnosis, Caring Educator contacted the school district to see how many sick leave days she had accumulated so that she could plan her FMLA leave for chemo-therapy appointments for the 2021-2022 school year.[1] In determining Caring Educator’s 12-week allotment, the school district reviewed her past use of sick leave and deducted all the member’s prior use of sick leave days from the 12-week allotment. The district also told the member that it could deduct past sick leave because “it is in our policy.” Not satisfied with the district’s answer, Caring Educator called GAE legal services. We’re glad she did!
We advised Caring Educator that under FMLA regulations, the school district may deduct prior use of sick leave to determine her 12 week allotment but only if the past use was eligible for FMLA leave https://bit.ly/3hHvme5 Armed with this information, Caring Educator advised the district that none of the sick leave she used during the past 12 months was eligible for FMLA and they may not deduct any past sick leave use from her 12 week allotment for next school year. After reviewing the facts and the law provided by GAE legal services, Caring educator received the entire 12-week allotment of FMLA leave. Caring Educator is now better able to focus on getting back to school, being with her students, caring for her son and, most importantly, beating cancer. “I wish other educators would join GAE so they wouldn’t have to face things like this all by themselves.” It was an honor to assist this member. We thank Caring Educator for her membership!
[1] The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 entitles eligible employees for up to 12 workweeks of job protected medical leave during a 12-month period to care for a serious health condition. Breast cancer is a “serious health condition” under the Act. Importantly for Caring Educator’s health care plans, the FMLA allows the use of leave on an intermittent basis – perfect for planning chemo-therapy appointments during the workday.  
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If you are approaching retirement or have already taken the leap, remember that in order to maintain your valuable benefits from GAE and NEA, you must maintain your membership.  You can join GAE/NEA - Retired either on an annual basis or lifetime basis for one flat fee. Please contact GAE - Retired President Toni Smith at president.gae.retired@gmail.com for more information.
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