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HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) – A Dolton woman says she asked her boss for two weeks off to undergo cancer treatment. She says her boss turned her down, then fired her. Now, she and the Federal EEOC are suing the company. CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.
“Fire me for performance, not because I’m sick,” said Felicia Nichols.
Nichols is a divorced mother, raising six kids. She worked for almost a year as a therapist for the privately owned Regional Mental Health Center in Hammond, Ind.
Then, in 2009, Nichols was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. That led to her firing.
“Somebody who hasn’t went through this does not understand what it feels like to be diagnosed with cancer,” she said.
Nichols filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that she asked her employer for two weeks off to begin treatment. The company turned her down, she says. Nichols says she took the time off anyway and was fired.
“I felt like there should have been compassion for me, going through such an ordeal,” she said.
Nichols says she felt compassion from her supervisor but from upper management, “it felt like it just turned cold.”
Her attorney from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said, “An employer cannot simply ignore requests for reasonable accommodation and then fire a disabled worker.”
The director of the Regional Mental Health Center was not in when CBS 2 paid a visit, and she did not return calls for comment.
Nichols says she believes she’s one of thousands who’ve run up against this.
“The employers are senseless, they have no emotion towards that,” said Nichols. “And we want to live like everybody else.”
Since her dismissal, Nichols underwent a mastectomy and continues to fight the disease. She’s also found a new job with a health facility in Gary, Ind. that she says is “very compassionate.”