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Your Wife Has Cancer? You’re Fired

Your Wife Has Cancer? You’re Fired

After telling his employer that his wife of 23 years had lung cancer and he would need to work a modified schedule to help care for her, Carl Sorabella was fired from him job. ABC News reports that Kathy Sorabella learned in late April that she had stage 4 incurable cancer. Her husband asked his employer of 14 years, Haynes Management, a real estate company in Wellesley Hills, Massaschusetts, to work a more flexible schedule. This was the response he got:

“When I told my boss, she said ‘We were thinking about laying you off.’ I thought, ‘You can’t do that,’” Sorabella told WCVB.

“Ultimately she said don’t worry about it and come in on Monday, and when I came in on Monday I got a letter that I would be laid off,” he said. Sorabella said the letter stated he was being laid off due to “workforce modifications.” But one week after he was fired, he says he saw a listing for his job on the company website.

“She said, ‘It’s business. I’m running a company here, and I need to make sure the department runs.’ And I argued that I would make sure the company runs,” Sorabella said.

Sorabella, an accountant, is currently speaking to a lawyer and is considering contacting the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. But because Haynes Management has only about 20 employees, he faces an uphill battle.

David Frank, a legal analyst with Lawyers Weekly, says that the Family and Medical Leave Act only applies to private employers who have 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of the worksite. This federal law gives employees “up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for serious health conditions or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.” Despite Haynes Management’s size, the company makes millions in annual sales.

Sorabella and his wife are currently relying on his unemployment and her disability insurance. On top of everything, they have $60,000 worth of graduate school loans for Kathy Sorabella’s studies in psychotherapy. Despite the nausea from chemotherapy, she is considering getting a part-time job.

ABC News notes that her cancer “had not spread as far as initially believed, though she will not know if she has a year or 10 years to live until her next CAT scan in three months.” She says that she and her husband are “just spending time with each other.”

I’ve spent most of the past ten years juggling a full-time job and caring for a child who’s moderately to severely autistic and has lots of needs. It’s not easy but it can be done. I’ve been fortunate to have a job with a very flexible schedule, but I have work a lot at home and in the middle of the night — and whenver — to get everything done. Of course Haynes Management is a “business” but it seems the company should at least have given Carl Sorabella, a long-time employee. a chance by accommodating his requests instead of simply showing him the door.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition to tell Haynes Management: don’t fire employees over lung cancer!

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Graphic By sailko (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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106 comments

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8:03PM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

Horrible. I hope he finds a job and his wife gets better soon.

7:38PM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Troubling -- the law on the books, doesn't cover companies with less than 50 employees. Yet, one expects, out of common decency, that an employee of 14 years, would be treated with more compassion.

9:48PM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

We know the days of loyalty between employers and employees are gone, but this is a really cold way to treat someone who has given 14 years to the company. It really shows how disposable their workers are to them.

9:46PM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

I hope the residents of Wellsley MA read about this and decide to "lay off" Haynes Management. Pretty contemptible behavior considering the guy had worked there 14 years. They didn't even TRY to work out a schedule with him, or hire someone part time to pick up some of the slack. He's an accountant for crying out loud - he could probably work from home on a flex schedule a lot of the time. What a--holes.

10:33AM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Wow!!! best of luck to this couple and hopefully the rest of the community will consider to fire this company from thier town.

4:30AM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

PLEASE VISIT US AT:
https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/I-hate-Haynes-Management-Inc/111742002249387
TO SUPPORT THE FAMILY!!!
Thank you

12:20AM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

What ratfinks to fire him when all he asked for was a modified schedule- he didn't even ask for a leave of absence or time off. My heart goes out to Carl and Kathy.

11:25PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

Absolutely despicable. And after 14 years of service, too! May the graybird of unhappiness drop slimy, acrid turds on Haynes Management.

6:31PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

I can believe it. When my dad was dying, I wanted to take my family and see him one last time. I knew it would be goodbye, and it would be good for him as well as us. I asked for two weeks off because we live 3 states away and it's a 2 day drive each way. I was told no, although one would be covered with vacation pay. A fellow employee told me about the law and I asked again for the 2 weeks. He still said no. I said (maybe a mistake) that I would go to the disctrict manager if I had to. I wanted the time to say goodbye. He finally gave in, but my first day back was fired. He had hired a replacement while I was gone. Fighting it did no good, but I'm not too terribly sad. My dad died 4 months later, and we all have wonderful memories of our last visit with him.

10:25AM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

With any luck, this publicity will help boss-lady run her company right into the ground. Sorry to the other employees, but now you know who you’re working for and where you would stand if you were in the same situation.

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