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What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

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  #1  
Unread 01-05-2008, 02:35 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

Akin to the "When are you returning" thread... I need some feedback here. This is going to be long - I'm sorry - but this has been a never-ending nightmare/saga.

Let me preface this with the fact that I work for a small company, thus it's FMLA-exempt, which is located in an at-will state. The state offers no short-term disability, and I went into this without a private policy of my own. My company elected to pay me my full salary while I'm off, although we don't have any formal medical leave policy established.

When I got the news from my doctor, my supervisor and I discussed it, and she was fully supportive of my TAH. She had had one herself, thought it was the best thing I could do for myself, and reassured me that I was fine. She also mentioned how, after hers, she was up and washing windows at 2 weeks and that maybe I might start feeling ready to come in for a couple of hours at that point. My response was, "Hmmm, maybe." There never was any further discussion to formalize my leave, I didn't sign any kind of agreements, but it was made clear that I was going to be paid for my time off when my supervisor asked me about doing a couple of tasks from home, "since I'm going to be on the clock anyway."

Fast forward to post-op, not quite 2 weeks out, my boss was emailing me and she was making comments that assumed that I was going to be back in the office for at least 2 hours a day, as of 12/19 (which was the same day as my 2 week post-op) and that she expected me to be back in the office full-time after Christmas (when I'd be 3 weeks post-op). I emailed her back and told her that I had no idea what my doctor was going to allow yet, that I didn't see her until 12/19, but that it wasn't likely that she'd give me a partial release until 4 weeks. Her reply glossed over what I'd said, saying, "Well, the main thing is that you're back in the office after Christmas."

I went to the company Christmas open-house on 12/18, after discussing it with DH, because we decided we should let my boss see for herself that I wasn't ready to be at work. I made a point to move slowly, and I talked about still requiring narcotics for pain. At the open house, my supervisor told me that the only day that I really needed to be in the office was 12/28, and only to process any receivables so that they got deposited before year end (the office was closed on 12/31). The next morning, she called me and confirmed what she'd said the night before... which was good, I was wondering if maybe the wine had been talking. Silly me, I offered to pick up the mail on 12/21, and process any receivables then... to which she replied, "Only if you feel up to it and want to do it."

(Need to add... the reason she was so concerned with when I'd get back around Christmas is that she decided, after my surgery was scheduled and the office started planning for it, that she was going to go out of town for the holidays for 3 weeks. Nice. Rush my recovery time, trying to cut it to 2 weeks... so she could have a 3 week vacation.)

So, I saw my doctor for my 2wk post-op, and I brought up returning to work very part-time. She didn't even want to discuss it. She told me to call her when I reach 4wks post-op to let her know whether or not I was still spotting (I had been spotting quite constantly). She also warned me that, if I was still spotting, she wouldn't release me.

On 12/21, I had several kids who were throwing up and I wasn't feeling so well, myself. I was in pain and I was queasy. Around noon, I got a call from my supervisor who was upset, "Why aren't you going into the office? We need to get the mail so we can process any receivables!" Good grief. She also was assuming that I was going to go in on 12/26, even though she'd told me I didn't have to be in except for 12/28... and I told her that there was no way that that would happen.

(I should point out, there are some tasks at our office that only my supervisor and I do - usually financial tasks, since she's the CFO and I'm moving into her position soon.)

So I had DH come pick me up on 12/21 when he took lunch, because even though I'd been cleared to drive, I didn't feel ready. He fetched the mail from the PO Box for me, I went in and processed the deposits so that our client's accounts would show that we'd received a payment and they could receive support, and I came home. I spent about 45 minutes total in the office.

I went in again on 12/28 and did the same thing... I processed any additional payments that we received between 12/21 and 12/28, and then prepared the deposit. Again, a short office visit. While there, I talked to my supervisor on the phone and she brought up the 1st of the month invoicing that needed to be done on 1/2 - she was going to need me to come in for an hour then to do those. I agreed, but at that point, I was very graphic and frank with her about my symptoms and also told her that the pathology had shown numerous issues and that quite a bit of work was done internally, even after removing organs, so she seemed to back off quite a bit. Told me to rest, be careful, no lifting, no bending... take care of myself now, so nothing happens later. Blah, Blah, the whole nine-yards.

(I know... I shouldn't have been in the office at all, but given that there was no one else that could perform the tasks and it was year-end, I didn't have much choice (if I wanted to keep my job). I chalked it up to being better than having to be back at work daily, as of 2 weeks... or even full-time, at 3 weeks! I had to do what I had to do.)

On the night that I hit 4 weeks (Jan. 1st), the end of my incision opened up and was trickling clearish yellow fluid and blood. The next morning, I called up and got on the schedule, so I saw my doctor rather than just calling her. While I was in the waiting room, my supervisor called me and I let it go to voicemail. (She's called me every business day that I've been out, since I was 1 week post-op. Talk about pressure.) When I checked the voicemail, she was just verifying that I was going to do the invoicing... because, again, I'm the only one that can and business can't stand still because I'm out on medical leave.

I saw my doctor, turns out the incision thing was really just superficial... my sutures hadn't dissolved, they'd been rubbing and irritating the incision, so the right corner of my incision had been unable to fully heal. She removed the sutures, cleaned the incision and treated it - prescribed a topical antibiotic for me, and that was that. So I brought up return-to-work for part time hours and she said absolutely not. My incision isn't fully healed yet, I'm still having spotting... it's better to not take any risks, she's a very conservative doctor, and she feels it's best to limit my odds of developing adhesions. (I'm still not allowed to cook, clean, do laundry, physically care for the kids.) She said that she'd see me at 6 weeks and we'd talk about my work-release then.

I went in to the office for "just an hour" to do the invoicing, and discovered a nightmare. For the two weeks that my supervisor covered, she'd only half-done the necessary data entry that was needed and there was still 2 more weeks of data entry that no one entered, at all. I had to backtrack and start from scratch: go through a mountain of reports to cull data, enter the data myself, correct data that my supervisor had entered in error, and run queries. My "just an hour" turned into five hours, I had to wrangle with the filing cabinets, and I was hobbling and almost in tears when I left. I told my assistant, "you won't see me tomorrow, if I feel this bad now, I'm going to feel all the worse tomorrow. I'll stop by for a bit on Friday to bring in any receivables." I went home, got my heating pad out, and laid down and cried.

The next day, I did feel horrible. Other than having to go over to the hospital for a breast ultrasound, I stayed in bed all day. Late in the afternoon, my cellphone rang... and it was my supervisor. I couldn't deal with her, so I let it go to voicemail. When I finally checked the message later, she was upset... she said that the office was short-handed because we also had a tech guy out, and that my assistant and our IT were running the show and burning out. She needed me to go in "just for a bit" on Friday so they could process a large shipment and I could answer the phone. I didn't call her back that night because I already had intended to stop by the office and I'd told my assistant that I would. I figured I'd call my boss in the morning.

She called me on Friday morning. I told her I'd already intended to go into the office for a bit, at mid-day. She agreed that that was good and told me to just sit and answering the phone, maybe a few light tasks if I have any. The main point was to be there to cover so my assistant could go over and help get the shipment out. She also decided now was the time to launch into why I wasn't back in the office at 2 weeks post-op. She claimed that we had "an agreement." I told her, "When we talked about 2 weeks, you were saying you thought I could do that, and I told you 'maybe.' That was really best case scenario, and there's no way to predict pre-op when I would be able to return with no gauge of my recovery. At 2 weeks, I saw my doctor, she had concerns about my recovery and said no, absolutely not. I relayed that to you. There was no way I could tell you pre-op that I would absolutely be back at 2 weeks post-op, and I didn't. I told you, when I had info, that my doctor most likely wouldn't clear me for part-time hours until 4 weeks and because I understand that business must go on, I've gone in AMA several times to make sure things are running smoothly. I've seen my doctor this week and she still won't release me, she said she'll see me at 6 weeks."

Well... that didn't sit so well with my supervisor. She said that she needs me in again, this coming Monday, for about 4 hours. She told me to rest over the weekend, go in for the 4 hours and see how I do. She'll be back in the office on Tuesday. Meanwhile, she told me to be careful while I'm at the office... don't lift, don't pull anything... if I need something, have my assistant go get it for me. She said she'd "feel horrible if anything happened."

Argh.

When I went in to the office that afternoon, my assistant told me about the conversation that *she* had with my supervisor. It seems that my supervisor told her, "this medical leave business is over. It's time for Tam to be back in the office every day. We had an agreement for 2 weeks, and it didn't happen, and I don't see any reason that it should be taking so long. I don't understand this."

Double argh. *banging head on keyboard*

My co-workers are sympathetic. Our IT Director was very apologetic on Friday, he told me that he tried to insist to my supervisor that they didn't need me to come in when he talked to her, and he's offered to bring in heating pads and things to try to help me feel comfortable. The whole time I was there on Friday, he kept trying to reassure me that he was hurrying so I could go home. Of course, two hours ended up being four hours.

So I've got a huge mess here. I'm not cleared to be back at work, which presents a legal liability for the company if something should happen while I'm in the office. I have conversations with my supervisor regarding my recovery and return, but the conversation that we're actually having is not the conversation that my supervisor is hearing in her head. I've been back at work, and my body is telling me it's not ready. And... I've got no legal recourse to support me. Even having my doctor call and tell my supervisor that she hasn't yet released me doesn't mean that my company has to comply with it.

I also really need my job - I'm the primary wage-earner for our family. Without my income, we couldn't pay rent, car payment, car insurance, utilities. DH's income only covers our medical benefits and daycare for our children. Without my paycheck, we'd be up a creek.

There's another hitch here, too. I mentioned that I'll be moving into my supervisor's position. That's because, as I was informed this week by my supervisor on the phone, we're going to be opening a west coast office. She and her husband are relocating to the west coast in order to do so. As soon as I'm back in the office full-time, we're having a strategy meeting to discuss division of tasks, and then they're going. Really going, not just a trip. Until I can get back in the office full-time, I'm impeding the progress of our entire company. Of course, if I rush my return, and then I have a set-back... there's no one to cover for me.

(There's also the factor that, when I move into the new position, I'll also be receiving what is purported to be a rather dramatic pay increase. But right now, the money isn't the important factor, as long as I'm maintaining my current income.)

Here's what *I'm* thinking I have to do. I need to go in Monday, because I don't have much choice. I'll have to go in on Tuesday, so my boss can see me and also see that I still move pretty slowly and I'm pretty darn uncomfortable sitting in my office chair. She and I need to discuss this face-to-face, and if a reasonable compromise cannot be reached, then I'm going to have to call my doctor and have her call my supervisor. I'd thought about having her do so prior to now, except that she'd have to call my boss on her cellphone, and I'm not permitted to give out that number.

Am I in a mess, or what? Thank you so much for reading all of this, I know it's a novel. I just don't know what to do.
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  #2  
Unread 01-05-2008, 03:01 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

Wow. Your plan sounds good. Would it be possible to get a letter from your doctor on Monday (maybe she could fax something over?) to present to your boss on Tuesday (she won't be in Monday, yes?)? Maybe put your Dr's office on notice that you might need her to talk to your boss Tuesday? It is unfortunate that your boss hasn't considered the scenario where you come back to work early, without being released by your dr, somethings happens and this turns into workman's comp or a law suit against her. The bottom line is that you are acting in a reasonable manner, your boss is totally in another world. I feel for you immensely - !

Mariah
  #3  
Unread 01-05-2008, 03:12 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

  Quote:
Originally Posted by morgainec
Wow. Your plan sounds good. Would it be possible to get a letter from your doctor on Monday (maybe she could fax something over?) to present to your boss on Tuesday (she won't be in Monday, yes?)? Maybe put your Dr's office on notice that you might need her to talk to your boss Tuesday? It is unfortunate that your boss hasn't considered the scenario where you come back to work early, without being released by your dr, somethings happens and this turns into workman's comp or a law suit against her. The bottom line is that you are acting in a reasonable manner, your boss is totally in another world. I feel for you immensely - !

Mariah
Thanks Mariah, good suggestion to talk to my doctor's office on Monday. There for a while, when my supervisor seemed to be backing off (although she always seems to come back to her original ideas), I thought maybe she had talked to the company attorney and received advisement that forcing an early return would put the company at risk for a worker's comp claim or maybe even a lawsuit. At this point, I just think she changes her mind every other day.

I'm trying my best to be reasonable and considerate of the fact that I have a high-responsibility position, which may require some hours here and there during my recovery. In some ways, giving hours AMA may be a mistake, but I'm trying to see it as a concession.

Man... lately, I'm wishing, though, that I worked for a large corporation with an HR department, so that I could recover in peace for a full 6 weeks.
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  #4  
Unread 01-05-2008, 03:30 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

I'm trying my best to be reasonable and considerate of the fact that I have a high-responsibility position, which may require some hours here and there during my recovery. In some ways, giving hours AMA may be a mistake, but I'm trying to see it as a concession.

I understand where you're coming from. I was suppose to have surgery last May originally - the first thing my boss asked was if I could work from home. I told my dr and she said "no".I delayed surgery for personal reasons (like thinking the fibroids would go away - ha) and then it became very evident that wasn't going to happen. My surgery wasn't scheduled for the "optimum" time for the company (it's a smaller non-profit) but after 10 years of busting my behind for them (including working very long hours while bleeding profusely to the point I should have been in bed), I decided that no time was going to be good for them and I needed to take care of me.

I had 400 hours of sick leave. My boss wanted me to see if I could get disability instead of using the sick leave. We normally communicate well, however, I was really angry and chose not to talk to her about it directly, because I didn't want to become angry and then need to apologize for my behavior! We don't have many benefits (just health insurance and sick leave) and I felt like I was being encouraged to not use a benefit of employment to save the company money.

I ended up writing her a formal letter and just stating that I do have 400 hours of sick leave (a benefit of employment), which I intend to use as needed. If the unfortunate circumstance arose that I used the 400 hours, then I would apply for disability. No response from her. She did come to see me in the hospital.

My Dr cleared me to work 2 - 3 hours a day after Xmas IF I felt like it. I did about 4 hours that week and did 12 hours last week (too much but I am overcompensating). My boss understands that I can't consider working full-time until my post-op appt on the 10th. i had expected to be back full-time 1/2. I explained to my boss how I felt physically, the ups and downs, pains, hormone shifts, tiredness and she was clear that I shouldn't do more that I felt I could do. I've decided to take her at her word.

We have a big event coming up at the end of the month that I'm in charge of - we got started on it too late and we are way behind. For me this is an opportunity to let things be - let them work out how they will, which is very uncomfortable for me! Just do what I can do and not drive myself into the ground. Because it's easy for me to do that - have been doing it around this job for 10 years and it had to stop somewhere!

Mariah
  #5  
Unread 01-05-2008, 03:37 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

Tam is there any chance a courier service and the internet would help you work at home? I went back 20 hours 1 day short of 2 weeks, BUT I worked at home. I bought a long cord before my surgery so that my computer reached to my bed. I had my cell phone, my planner, paper etc. Sometimes I would nap an hour / work an hour. I just played it by ear based on how I felt.

The thing is - reading between the lines to me over all your posts regarding this situation, it does sound like other than this issue that you do like your job. I like mine too and I have a ton of responsibility. Plus I am single so I am my only wage earner That's why I came up with the plan I did.

Good Luck and I think BTW that you already have been so fair and tried hard to compromise. Maybe you would feel a bit better it the compromise benefitted your physical recovery.

Let us know what happens and big hugs......

Starbgirl
  #6  
Unread 01-05-2008, 04:07 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

  Quote:
Originally Posted by morgainec
I'm trying my best to be reasonable and considerate of the fact that I have a high-responsibility position, which may require some hours here and there during my recovery. In some ways, giving hours AMA may be a mistake, but I'm trying to see it as a concession.

I understand where you're coming from. I was suppose to have surgery last May originally - the first thing my boss asked was if I could work from home. I told my dr and she said "no".I delayed surgery for personal reasons (like thinking the fibroids would go away - ha) and then it became very evident that wasn't going to happen. My surgery wasn't scheduled for the "optimum" time for the company (it's a smaller non-profit) but after 10 years of busting my behind for them (including working very long hours while bleeding profusely to the point I should have been in bed), I decided that no time was going to be good for them and I needed to take care of me.

I had 400 hours of sick leave. My boss wanted me to see if I could get disability instead of using the sick leave. We normally communicate well, however, I was really angry and chose not to talk to her about it directly, because I didn't want to become angry and then need to apologize for my behavior! We don't have many benefits (just health insurance and sick leave) and I felt like I was being encouraged to not use a benefit of employment to save the company money.

I ended up writing her a formal letter and just stating that I do have 400 hours of sick leave (a benefit of employment), which I intend to use as needed. If the unfortunate circumstance arose that I used the 400 hours, then I would apply for disability. No response from her. She did come to see me in the hospital.

My Dr cleared me to work 2 - 3 hours a day after Xmas IF I felt like it. I did about 4 hours that week and did 12 hours last week (too much but I am overcompensating). My boss understands that I can't consider working full-time until my post-op appt on the 10th. i had expected to be back full-time 1/2. I explained to my boss how I felt physically, the ups and downs, pains, hormone shifts, tiredness and she was clear that I shouldn't do more that I felt I could do. I've decided to take her at her word.

We have a big event coming up at the end of the month that I'm in charge of - we got started on it too late and we are way behind. For me this is an opportunity to let things be - let them work out how they will, which is very uncomfortable for me! Just do what I can do and not drive myself into the ground. Because it's easy for me to do that - have been doing it around this job for 10 years and it had to stop somewhere!

Mariah
I'm sorry that you had to go through all of that, ugh! Especially to have the accrued time, and then be asked not to use it! I'm glad, though, that your boss seems to be understanding now. Good luck with the big event!

With my employer, I'll have been with the company in 2 years come May. I chose to have the surgery as soon as I could get scheduled because December is our slowest time of the year - companies stop spending money and they wait for their new budget, but they don't usually start spending until February. My supervisor had already been saying that it wasn't likely that they'd go out of town, so it seemed like the perfect time. There was no mention at that time of how rapidly our company's expansion would be taking place, either.

I'm excited about the direction that our company is moving, but it's frustrating to think that my recovery is being rushed, so they can get out of the door. The last thing I need to do is set myself up for disaster, should I have a set-back once I've been promoted. Other than the hours here and there, once I reach 6 weeks, I know I'll be expected to jump right back in full-time whether I'm ready or not. I dread the exhaustion that I'm going to feel the next few months.
  #7  
Unread 01-05-2008, 04:22 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

  Quote:
Originally Posted by starbgirl
Tam is there any chance a courier service and the internet would help you work at home? I went back 20 hours 1 day short of 2 weeks, BUT I worked at home. I bought a long cord before my surgery so that my computer reached to my bed. I had my cell phone, my planner, paper etc. Sometimes I would nap an hour / work an hour. I just played it by ear based on how I felt.

The thing is - reading between the lines to me over all your posts regarding this situation, it does sound like other than this issue that you do like your job. I like mine too and I have a ton of responsibility. Plus I am single so I am my only wage earner That's why I came up with the plan I did.

Good Luck and I think BTW that you already have been so fair and tried hard to compromise. Maybe you would feel a bit better it the compromise benefitted your physical recovery.

Let us know what happens and big hugs......

Starbgirl
I wish those were options. The city I'm in is small, we don't have courier services, although I could just have DH pick up paperwork for me. He works 2 blocks from my office. Before I even left the office, I attempted to work out remote access... and I thought I'd had them convinced to set up GoToMyPC. The IT Department was on-board, the president of the company was on-board... my supervisor said, "no, not necessary." They have set up remote server access - I could access our network for some files, if I had the necessary configuration on my end... but that doesn't get me to Quickbooks, our database, etc. So it's not very useful since much of my job is either supervisory or working with our database and our financials. I did bring home some work with me... lol, I hand-addressed our company Christmas cards (normally my assistant would do that). I brought home some documentation manual notes that I could be working on. I also was assigned the task of preparing some of our new marketing materials while I was at home. None of this is really part of my day-to-day tasks, though, and doesn't work toward keeping business flowing as usual. The only help I've been there has been being available via cellphone, email and IM for my assistant, when she had questions about tasks that she was juggling (since she was just hired 2 months ago).

Yes, you're right... I do like my job. In fact, I love my job... and I even love my supervisor, even though she's making me feel crazy right now. I think we have a great company, I'm proud of what we do, my job growth and salary growth have been wonderful. I'm about to rise to a higher level of management (managing the entire administrative office of the company) and higher level of compensation. I have opportunity to learn more about the IT side of the company, because I'm going to be cross-trained as backup for our IT Director, in the event that he's ever out of the office and so that someone can document our network adminstration (and learning those things is right up my alley, even though I work in the admin side).

You're also right... I would be much happier if there was more compromise given to my need for appropriate physical recovery. I'm not asking to drag my recovery out any longer than my doctor states is necessary. I've been asking for means of accessing the office so that I could keep on top of my job. I've been willing to go in when there are tasks that I'm the only staff person capable of handling (boy, I cannot wait to train someone for those, once my promotion goes through and we hire additional office staff). I'm honestly thinking of the company's best interest, should a rushed return cause me to require more medical leave - particularly if I develop adhesions and require surgical repair. My doctor already warned me that she wouldn't let me off easy with my recovery time, if that were the case.

I just have to figure out how to make my supervisor see the light.
  #8  
Unread 01-05-2008, 06:10 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

The last thing I need to do is set myself up for disaster, should I have a set-back once I've been promoted. Other than the hours here and there, once I reach 6 weeks, I know I'll be expected to jump right back in full-time whether I'm ready or not. I dread the exhaustion that I'm going to feel the next few months. [/quote]

Good point...maybe that is something your supervisor might understand - that you want to recover thoroughly so that you are 100% when it's time for them to come out west.

With an event like I have coming up, in the past it would have involved working 7 days a week (but not 8 hours a day each day), a combination of adrenalin and exhaustion. Don't have the adrenalin to "make it work" and am not willing to work myself into exhaustion (even if I get discharged to work full-time on the 10th - which isn't a given). Am concerned that if I do get exhausted I might never get out of bed again!
  #9  
Unread 01-05-2008, 06:17 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

  Quote:
Originally Posted by morgainec

Good point...maybe that is something your supervisor might understand - that you want to recover thoroughly so that you are 100% when it's time for them to come out west.

With an event like I have coming up, in the past it would have involved working 7 days a week (but not 8 hours a day each day), a combination of adrenalin and exhaustion. Don't have the adrenalin to "make it work" and am not willing to work myself into exhaustion (even if I get discharged to work full-time on the 10th - which isn't a given). Am concerned that if I do get exhausted I might never get out of bed again!
I should probably sketch myself a good outline of what I'd like to discuss... that way I just don't go into it emotionally.

Sounds like quite an event that you're hosting! Just give it what you can - you have my warmest thoughts, sounds like you have the best attitude towards it for your health, though.

I know that feeling of going to bed and not ever wanting to get back up!
  #10  
Unread 01-05-2008, 06:20 PM
What to do when your employer is pressuring your return to work

  Quote:
Originally Posted by iluv2digiscrap
I should probably sketch myself a good outline of what I'd like to discuss... that way I just don't go into it emotionally.

Sounds like quite an event that you're hosting! Just give it what you can - you have my warmest thoughts, sounds like you have the best attitude towards it for your health, though.

I know that feeling of going to bed and not ever wanting to get back up!
Thank you for your good wishes!

Did you think recovery was going to be like this? I thought it would be much easier - it also disturbs me to read posts from women who are still dealing with swelling at 3 months plus -

Mariah
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5 Replies, No Uterus - No Ovaries - Yes HRT - Surgical Menopause



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October 21,2020

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HysterSisters Takes On Partner To Manage Continued Growth And Longevity
I have news that is wonderful and exciting! This week’s migration wasn’t a typical migration - from one set ... News Archive

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