Business

Wife Has Cancer? You’re Fired, Employee Told After 14 Years

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(credit: Bill Varie/Getty Images)

(credit: Bill Varie/Getty Images)

CBS Los Angeles (con't)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Massachusetts man says he was fired from his job after asking for a modified schedule so he could take care of his wife who had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Carl and Kathy Sorabella of Natick, Mass., told KFWB 980’s Michael Shappee the whole ordeal started with a phone call.

“My wife’s doctor [was] explaining that she had a tumor,” said Carl, an accountant who was working at real estate firm Haynes Management when he first heard the news.

“I broke down a bit…my boss actually drove me home that day,” he recalled.

After promising to call his boss with an update over the following weekend, Carl stopped by the office that Friday in late April after he and his wife Kathy found out she had stage 4 lung cancer and asked his boss to modify his work schedule.

He said he had explained he was flexible as far as scheduling was concerned and offered to work evening and weekend shifts.

“We explained what the schedule was going to be and the time I need, and that’s when my boss actually said ‘Well, we were just planning on laying you off’,” said Carl.

Carl, 43, had worked at Haynes for over 14 years and said he even received a raise last year.

According to The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), private employers must give employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition — but the law applies only to private employers with 50 or more employees.

Sorabella said his former firm had an estimated 20 employees.

Still, the couple, who have been married 23 years, have vowed not to give up their fight despite the likelihood that any legal challenge to the firing would fall short.

“We talked to a lawyer, but because they’re a small company and have less than 50 employees, FMLA doesn’t cover them, so they can pretty much do what they want to do,” said Carl.

The couple said they’re paying their bills with Carl’s unemployment compensation and Kathy’s disability insurance while Carl continues his job hunt.

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