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Employer Fires Employee Seeking Time Off for Cancer Treatment

Emanuel Shirazi

Rosebud Restaurant, a Chicago chain, recently fired 19 year old Jonathan Larson after he requested 6 weeks off for a cancer treatment.

When Larson, a delivery driver at the restaurant, asked his manager for time off for radiation treatment of his brain cancer, the manager told him that by the time he got back, he’d already have another driver hired. He then told Jonathan to leave because he had to make some phone calls.

Jonathan Larson was diagnosed with cancer of the brain and spine. The six weeks off would allow him to undergo surgery and recover.

When news of the firing broke out, the Chicago restaurant received plenty of backlash on their Facebook page. After seeing the negative response from community members, the restaurant posted this statement “we want you to know that we’re listening and since learning of the incident have acted swiftly to better understand what transpired.” The restaurant spoke with Jonathan Larson and reassured him that his job would be waiting for him upon his return.

Mr. Larson would not be the first person to be fired for needing cancer treatment. In September, a physician’s assistant in Pennsylvania was fired — by mail — after getting diagnosed with cancer.

Some of the federal laws that protect employees from being fired for similar situations include the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Under California’s disabilities laws, most employers with 5 or more employees must reasonably accommodate their employees’ disabilities.

Even if Mr. Larson did not qualify for FMLA leave or the restaurant did not fall into the purview of the ADA–what do you think of the employer’s quick firing and backtracking once the media got involved? For a similar media backlash case, readthis article.

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