Fired for getting cancer?

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A Pennsylvania dentist is being criticized for firing an employee when he learned she had cancer.

Carol Jumper, who had worked at Vicnich Oral Surgery for 12 years, was fired by her boss George Visnich when he learned she had pancreatic, liver, and ovarian cancer last month.

In a hand-written Visnich wrote:

You are currently engaged in a battle against cancer that will be demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally.

 You will not be able to function in my office at the level required while battling for your life.

Because of this, I am laying you off without pay as of August 11, 2014. Your last paycheck will be mailed to you this Friday, 8/15/14.

Visnich added that he hoped she had a swift recovery.

The letter drew fire after an acquaintance of Jumper posted a picture of it on Facebook.

An attorney working for Visnich, Larry Kelly, told CNN that the dentist laid Jumper off to reduce her stress and so she could receive unemployment benefits.

"He never fired her. Ever,” Kelly said. Visnich also assured Jumper her job awaits her whenever she is ready to return to work, he said.

"This poor man is being tortured unnecessarily," Kelly said. "The guy tried to do something to help this woman in the best way he knew how, and this is his payback."

According to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law, a person who is or becomes unemployed qualifies for compensation if he or she "is able to work and available for work."
  • Joanne on 2014-09-15 12:24:47 PM

    If she could not work for him how can she qualify for benefits. The last paragraph says it all, she is not able to work nor is she available for work due to her illness. He discriminated against her pure and simple because of her illness and as he says the fight for her life. He deserves everything he is getting.....

  • Anita on 2014-09-15 12:43:21 PM

    I agree with you, Joanne. The letter leans more towards her not being able to function at the level HE requires. There are options...reducing hours, reducing workload, flexibility with appointments...or waiting to see if there will be any issues at all! Losing your ability to earn money at a time like this is stress of its own.

  • MB on 2014-09-15 10:12:07 PM

    Too bad Pennsylvania doesn't know about human rights and a little thing called "duty to accommodate". Agree with Anita. On point with accommodation options. Can't imagine struggling for my life and going through financial hardship. She would have a winning case in Ontario. A slam dunk!

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