Knoxville woman experiences issues with unemployment benefits after contracting COVID-19 and taking medical leave

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville woman is still waiting for her unemployement benefits after applying for them twice.

Rose Mosley applied once when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and a second time after taking medical leave. But so far, she’s received nothing from the Tennessee Department of Labor, even though the state’s websites says her claim for assistance is in process.

For Mosley, there are two questions that needed answers: Are you eligible for unemployment benefits if you take medical leave and cannot work? Are you eligible if you cannot work because you came down with COVID-19?


Mosley is grateful to her sister, Baberly Hardy. Mosley depends on a lot of medication. It’s been a long road to recovery for her during the last nine months.

Last August, Mosley had to take a medical leave of absence from her full-time position as a claims representative. She went online to the state Department of Labor website and applied for unemployment.

Mosley says because she had used all of her sick days, she was not paid during her medical leave. Her doctor then forwarded a letter to the unemployment office explaining why she was unable to work.

“They told me everything is being adjusted and it’s being sent upstairs and it would be two or three weeks before I would hear from them. They were going to go ahead and process me, but nothing happened.”

Rose Mosley

At that time, Mosley says she never heard back from the department. Back at work for three months, she soon found herself again in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

“In February they diagnosed me at the hospital with COVID-19. Then after doing some tests they said I had to be admitted for COVID.”

Rose Mosley

Believing she’s due back pay because of her medical leave and missing work after contracting the virus, she asked for our help. We contacted the Labor Department.

The note from the state says: Mosley would not be eligible for unemployment benefits if she is out of work due to illness. A person must be able and available to work to meet eligibility requirements for unemployment.

In a second note, however, the state says: Mosely’s case is under review and a result should be known soon.

So, yes, under the federal CARES Act, if you contract the virus and can’t work, you are eligible for unemployment benefits.

However, generally, no, you aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits if you take medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and you cannot work.

If, on the other hand, your employer forces you to take medical leave, despite your ability and willingness to work, then you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

But, that was not the case for Mosley, when she gets an update we’ll let you know.

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