In what would seem like a dark satirical story from The Onion, is instead a reality for a Westminster grandmother named Laura Garcia. Garcia has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is scheduled this Tuesday to undergo a double mastectomy. Her Doctor told her she’d need a two month recovery period. When she conveyed this to her employer, they didn’t react in the way she’d hoped they would. According to KDVR.com, she was told she would need to choose between termination or resignation.
“At that time I was told I would have to resign or be terminated since I had only been there for six months,” said Garcia.
The worst, or ironic, part of the story is the company which she works for. Garcia is a billing specialist who works for Touchstone Imaging, a national company which does a variety of medical diagnostics, most notably in this case, mammograms. In a more absurd twist, Touchstone Imagine actually found Garcia’s breast cancer. She pleaded with the company to keep her job, but it was to no avail.
“I asked if there was anything I could do to in order to keep my job and she said if she gave you an exception then she would have to give everybody else an exception,” said Garcia while describing a phone conversation with the company’s human resources director.
Touchstone Imaging’s Human Resources department had a rather cold, formal response when asked about the situation.
“The information from the handbook stating that she`s not eligible for LOA or FMLA suffices. Upon her last day please complete a termination form.”
You would almost think this story was made up, but it isn’t. Garcia has hired an attorney who feels confident that Touchstone Imaging’s procedure is illegal. Her attorney, Paula Greisen, says that breast cancer recovery falls underneath of the Americans with Disability Act and that Garcia is entitled to the time off. Touchstone Imaging plans to maintain their position over the matter. You can check out the full story on KDVR.com.
It isn’t for me to say what a company should or shouldn’t do in these case, nor is it my position to interpret the law, however it speaks volumes that an operation which profits via mammograms would fire someone for recovering from a breast cancer related operation. It is difficult to imagine how they can justify this position. They are a large and profitable company, not a mom and pop shop that can’t afford to pay someone for recovery time or hold their position until they come back.
This is a company who pitches itself as the leading provider of diagnostic imaging services in the United States. But they can’t give patients who recover from the cancers they make money attempting to detect time off? Seems absurd.