The Paradox of “Best Places to Work”: My Experience with FMLA and ADA at iManage

In a world that increasingly values data-driven decisions and analytical rigor, one would expect that navigating employee rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would be straightforward. My recent experience with iManage, a company recently named one of the “Best Places to Work” in Chicago, reveals a different, more complicated reality.

Earlier this year, I contacted iManage’s HR department to inquire about a medical leave of absence for substance use treatment. By doing so, I put the company on notice that I was a disabled person under the ADA. By September, I was eligible for FMLA leave and had further concerns about my mental well-being. Despite following all the procedures outlined by HR, I found myself terminated for an “unapproved leave of absence.”

The irony here is twofold. First, I had fulfilled all the requirements for FMLA eligibility, including submitting a complete and sufficient medical certification. Yet, iManage decided to request additional certification for the five sick days I had taken prior to my leave. This action contradicts the FMLA, which states that an employer may not request additional information if an employee submits a complete and sufficient certification. Second, the company’s actions raise questions about discrimination under the ADA, especially given that they were aware of my disability.

Adding another layer of complexity, iManage rescinded its severance offer after I expressed my feelings on social media. This action could be seen as retaliatory and stands in stark contrast to the company’s reputation as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Chicago.

My experience serves as a cautionary tale. For employees, it underscores the importance of understanding your rights under both the FMLA and ADA. Consult legal advice, document all interactions, and be proactive. For employers, particularly those with accolades like “Best Places to Work,” it’s a reminder that such titles come with a responsibility to uphold the laws designed to protect the rights and well-being of your workforce.

In a society that values openness, transparency, and the betterment of all, it’s crucial that we address these issues head-on. Legal frameworks like the FMLA and ADA should serve as safeguards, not as mazes for employees to navigate at their most vulnerable. Let’s work together to ensure that these laws fulfill their intended purpose: to create a more equitable, understanding, and humane workplace for everyone.