A lot of employees relish the opportunity to do a special favor for their boss, hoping that the goodwill translate to consideration for advancement down the road. Few people expect that doing a favor for their boss will lead to being fired, especially if the favor saves their life.
However, that is exactly what seems to have happened to a 47-year-old woman recently. She donated a kidney to help her boss move up the transplant list and gain access to an exact match. Later, when she was recovering from the surgery and was not feeling well enough to come into work, she was demoted and lost overtime opportunities. After she complained about this treatment, she was fired in retaliation.
This reaction from her employer is truly shocking, especially because of the huge risk that the woman took by undergoing surgery to benefit her boss. She is suing her boss and her employer for discrimination, saying that she was treated unfairly based on a temporary disability. She may also have a claim for violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, which guarantees employees un-penalized leave from work to recover from an illness.
To add to the irony, the woman's former boss is apparently active in the effort to encourage kidney donations and participates in annual fundraisers to help facilitate organ donation.
This story is quite unusual, but the issues of discrimination and a right to medical leave are relevant for everyone. Employers are not allowed to discriminate based on a medical condition and must allow employees up to 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA to tend to their illness or care for a family member.
Source: Huffington Post, "Kidney Transplant Donor Debbie Stevens Reportedly Fired from Job After Donating Kidney to Boss," April 24, 2012.