Breast Cancer Patient Fired From Job Files Suit

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.”

  • Mro Package

    One word, injustice! It’s so fraudulent to be an employer in the social service field, who fail to uphold the values that they “hopefully” strive to provide to the clients who suffer from health issues and many others. If they don’t care about the well being of the clinician providing the service, its apparent what they really think of the clients. Shame on Northwest Indiana’s Mental Health employers!

  • Tiffany Turner

    It is hard to believe that things like this are so common, I am going thru this same thing with my former employer I was let go because my child has cancer and I am her main source of support, I was let go because I was told I took too many days off even though I was under a FMLA and still had almost 11weeks of leave left. I want to thank Felicia for stepping up and speaking out against this try of injustice

    • Felicia Nichols

      Tiffany this is exactly what I am talking about the lack of compassion from employers our problem is widespread and needs to stop. My prayers are with you and your child.

  • Gina Rost

    I have gone through the same tihing. I was let go of my job too, I also had Breast Cancer Stage 3c. I was told by my employer that thay didn’t want me to come back after my surgery because they were afraid I would get sick on the job. I too a single parent, fought with the state for months to get assistence. I too filed a complaint with the EEOC and The Department of Human Services. Right now Im waiting for the fact finding interview. I have been told by the department that I don’t have a case because things were not on paper. But Im not giving up. What kind of people fire someone who just received the worst news of their lives? Their names should be placed out there for everyone to see what kind of people they really are. I wish all of our stories could be heard. I wrote to tv stations to get my stoey told, But never received any news back from any of them. I am so happy they did your story, I wish you luck with your lawsuit, be healthy.

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