Ohio woman sues ex-employer after cancer battle

An Ohio woman who says she was fired after missing three months of work during treatment for breast cancer has sued her former employer and its managing partner, accusing them of discriminating against her and violating federal law.
Associated Press
Jan 31, 2013

Jeanine Gaver of Waynesville, about 35 miles northeast of Cincinnati, accuses Digestive Specialists and her supervisor, Dr. Ramesh Gandhi, of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act by denying her the same job or its equivalent after she missed work during her treatment, which included the removal of both breasts.

Gaver, 58, said Digestive Specialists took her off health insurance and offered her a job with fewer hours when she got well enough to work after the double mastectomy, saying they had found someone else for her job. Eventually, Gaver said, she was fired.

Digestive Specialists, Gandhi and their attorney did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday.

Gandhi left Digestive Specialists and is involved in separate litigation with the Kettering company; he's now working as a gastroenterologist at Miami Valley Hospital in Centerville. They have not yet responded to the lawsuit, and no trial date has been scheduled.

Gaver's lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Dayton, is seeking about $1.7 million for lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The lawsuit says Digestive Specialist's and Gandhi's "discriminatory and irrational conduct was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all bounds of decency and must be considered utterly intolerable in a civilized community."

Gaver "suffered severe mental and physical anguish that no reasonable person could be expected to endure," the lawsuit said.

Gaver had worked at Digestive Specialists as its radiology manager for 3½ years when her yearly mammogram revealed in June 2011 that she had an aggressive breast cancer.

She was approved for three months of medical leave, worked up until four days before her surgery and continually asked supervisors whether anyone needed to be trained to cover her job while she was gone, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says no one responded until the day before her surgery on Aug. 8, 2011, when Gandhi called her eight times, "becoming increasingly angry, harassing and intimidating with each phone call and demanding that Gaver come in to the office to train her temporary replacement."

She did not go in, citing conditions of her medical leave that prohibited her from working.

About a month after her surgery, the lawsuit says, Gandhi violated federal privacy laws by sending an email to everyone at the office complaining that some employees were using too much health insurance and saying that would raise the company's premiums significantly. Attached to the email was an insurance company's confidential report about Gaver's breast cancer, showing she had used about $83,500 in benefits, the lawsuit said.

When Gaver was ready to return to work in October 2011, she was told her position was no longer available but that she could return in a subordinate position for a few days a week and without health insurance, the lawsuit said.

At the time, the suit said, Gaver didn't know that under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers are required to return workers to their same or an equivalent position after their medical leave is over.

Worried about not having health insurance, Gaver asked whether she could get unemployment benefits if she was laid off.

Soon after that, Gaver said, she was fired.

While Digestive Specialist's attorney did not return a call for comment, Gaver's Dayton attorney, Jill Mead, said the company's position is that Gaver was not fired.

Gaver told The Associated Press this week that she is doing well physically but that the situation has taken a financial toll.

She said she gets about $1,000 a month in unemployment benefits, which goes toward paying for health insurance. She has been unable to find another job.

"I'm about to lose everything," she said, adding that she hopes others learn from her case. "I really didn't know what rights I had."

 

Comments

Mum-of-One

This is appaulling. They put a price on Ms. Gaver's life. Who do they think they are?

The Big Dog's back

The Corporate States of America. All hail Corporations.

deertracker

This happens alot. Employers generally have no use for sick employees. If you get a terminal illness avoid telling your employer if you want to keep your job!

wiredmama222

AMEN and in some states, you employer can use the excuse of "job abandoment" to dismiss you (out west) and terminate you which means you lose benefits, senority and your rights as well. A sad but true fact. There is little to nothing you can do about it...even under FEDERAL laws.

2cents

(If you get a terminal illness avoid telling your employer if you want to keep your job!)

On Obama care, just puy a plot!

coasterfan

Your comment is incorrect. The Affordable Care Act makes it more difficult for employers to treat ill employees unfairly. It also makes it so that employers cannot use an employee's pre-existing health conditions (or that of another family member) as a reason for not hiring them in the first place. That exact situation happened to my sister, who was hired, then had the job offer denied when her new employer found out that her son had a chronic illness requiring maintenance medications.

The percentage of Americans with chronic illnesses is ever-growing. In a few years, after the ACA is in full effect and Americans have had a chance to see how it positively affects their own family and how it affects their own pocketbook, there will be far less discussion about it. Like Social Security and Medicare, it will become obvious that it was the right thing to do. Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it an improvement over the previous situation. Of course.

goofus

Where is the basis for your assumption??? One can lie about anything but a leftist will not furnish proof!!!

mikel

blind sheep

2cents

(Coaster)
Don’t take it too seriously; I was being a little sarcastic.

Being an employer is becoming more and more difficult. We had a few people that we were withholding for child support and other things as mandated by the court. When we slowed down and we let them go due to lack of work we had the telephone ringing for a month asking if we were hiring, I think a ploy by some legal teams to see if we really let them go because of this or maybe they just wanted off to receive unemployment. Then it became worse, we were subpoenaed to testify in court that we had laid them off for a reason! When I sent a representative they sat for a number of hours and nothing took place but they were supposed to come back. In another case we were subpoenaed to testify in Cuyahoga County for the same thing. In both cases we ended up turning it over to our legal people and in the end it cost over $2,500.00 to lay off these people because we were slow. God, maybe I should have filed for something, there must be some refund for the employer, oh yea, maybe just buy from China and eliminate the employee!

mlm_0609

This is so sad! As if this woman doesnt have enough to deal with already, now she has these insensitive people to put up with! Wishing her all the best!!

Kimo

No room for sick people in a trickle down economy.

A sick employee is bad for profits.
.

coasterfan

Quite true. I lost my job in 2008, less than a month after an 18-day hospital stay and major surgery, and less than 3 months after receiving an excellent performance review from my employer, who had opined that I would be promoted within 6 months. Things changed, simply because of my health problems. With safeguards put in place with Obamacare, it would be more difficult for them to do that today.

Unassumer

NO. Things must change. You can't keep illness to yourself or work through it. Employees should have MORE rights and employers like this should be sued. It shouldn't be okay that they can arbitrarily fire people (sick or otherwise) and also they're breaking the law. Employers already have the advantage. Wake up.

goofus

Barry's death panels are now active!!!

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/3...

coasterfan

Wow, didn't think anyone still believed that Sarah Palin bunk....

goofus

Google Obamacare and death panels, you will be enlighten, one of my links triggered the spam alert from this leftist paper.

Dinghy Gal

This will stir things up.
Now it's your employers fault that you got sick and you can't do your job?

Don S

No union protection !!! This is the result !!!! It will only get worse, when Ohio kills more unions. Time will prove this, in the future....

KURTje

We the people rate the same health care as Congress.....opps, they are better than US.