Employees who work at small companies may sometimes fall outside of federal labor law protection. The story of one accountant who worked at a small company fell outside of the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Unfortunately, the accountant and husband was fired from his position when he told his employer that his wife had cancer and that he would like to adjust his hours accordingly.
The Family and Medical Leave Act only applies to private employers with 50 or more employees who work within 75 miles of the worksite. The federal law provides employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for serious health conditions or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are generally not bound by the federal law. The company the accountant worked at had 20 employees.
The accountant and his wife learned that she had stage 4 cancer this past April. The cancer has been diagnosed as incurable. The week the cancer was diagnosed the accountant informed his employer that his wife had cancer and that he would like a schedule that would accommodate his wife’s cancer treatment schedule during the week.
The accountant offered to work nights and weekends to make up the time. One week after his request, the accountant was fired. His former employer later put up a job posting for his former position. The accountant worked for the company for 14 years and was told by his boss that she was trying to run a company. He replied that he would help make sure the company runs.
The accountant’s 44-year-old wife said her husband put everything into his work. The 44-year-old wife currently waits for her next CAT scan and will not know for another three months what her life expectancy will be. In the mean time, the married couple of 23 years survives on the husband’s unemployment and the wife’s disability insurance.
Source: ABC News, “Man says he was fired after telling employer his wife has cancer,” Susanna Kim, 6/15/11