While visiting former coworkers, Debbie Stevens learned that her former supervisor at Atlantic Automotive Group, Jackie Brucia, was in need of a kidney transplant. Stevens offered to donate one of hers. After another kidney donor for Brucia fell through, Stevens believes Brucia began grooming her to be the back-up donor.
Brucia helped her get a job as an administrative assistant with Atlantic and soon after they agreed that Stevens would donate a kidney to another person awaiting transplant so that Brucia would be moved up on the donor list. After undergoing surgery to remove a healthy kidney for donation, Stevens began having medical problems. She took three extra days off because of the pain she was in despite being pressured by Brucia to return to work. Stevens lost her office space, was demoted and eventually fired by the woman whose life she’d helped save.
“Don’t expect to be treated special because of what you did for me,” Brucia was reported as telling Stevens.
Pressuring Stevens to return to work when she was medically unable to may violate the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if Stevens was eligible for its protections. An employee is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave if the employee has worked for his or her employer for at least a year and a certain number of hours. An employer cannot legally retaliate against an employee for taking FMLA protected leave. Retaliation can include a demotion, a decrease in pay and/or termination, among other actions.
It is also possible that Stevens could have qualified for some sort of accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on her medical condition after kidney donation.
Stevens is now unemployed and without health insurance to cover the side effects of donating a kidney.
Source: Reuters, “NY Woman Fired After Donating Kidney to Boss,” Stephanie Rabiner, April 24, 2012