Man Gets Fired After Wife Gets Cancer

job interview Massachusetts accountant Carl Sorabella had every reason to believe that his employer would grant his request for a more flexible schedule so that he could assist his wife, who had just been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and given only months to live. After all, he'd been with Haynes Management in Wellesley, for 13 years, and had just been given a raise in November.

But instead of a more accommodating schedule, he got a pink slip in response to his request, even though he had made it clear that he was willing to work nights and weekends to make up for the time he intended to spend taking his wife in for treatments and tests.

"It shocks me," said Kathleen, Sorabella's wife of 23 years. "People are supposed to help each other. I guess corporate America is different." When AOL Jobs reached her, she had just finished her first round of chemotherapy, and was "wicked nauseous." Their current financial troubles are not helping matters. With Sorabella out of a job and his wife too sick to work, they're not sure how they're going to cover her expenses.

Sorabella was sure that he would be able to arrange a more flexible schedule -- after all, he was head of the accounting department at Haynes, and had been with the company almost 14 years. But he says that his boss was afraid that if Sorabella wasn't there during regular business hours it could cause problems.

"It's business. I'm running a company here, and I need to make sure the department runs," she told him. Sorabella said that he assured her that he would see that the company runs well, working at any hour of the day or night to make up for the time he spent caring for his wife, but to no avail.

Sorabella says that his boss told him they were thinking about laying him off anyway, due to "modifications in workforce requirements." He thought, "you can't do that!" reports Boston's ABC affiliate WCVB. He says that he later saw an employment ad for his old job with the same company.

No one from Haynes Management has been available for comment, but in an email to WCVB reporter Susan Wornick, Vice President Mary Butler wrote, "this is a private personnel matter and we are not going to comment publicly."

Harsh treatment for a dedicated, longtime employee. Unfortunately, Sorabella has no legal recourse. Federal and state laws that protect workers from this kind of treatment only apply to larger companies with more than 50 employees.

For now, Sorabella is on unemployment, and his wife is on disability. But the two have always been fighters, and have faith that they can get through this together. Kathleen was homeless when they first met. Sorabella was a bus driver and found her sleeping in the back of his bus. The two have accomplished much since then.

After they got married, he earned an accounting degree, she set up a homeless shelter and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social science, the latter which she just completed three years ago. She's still paying off her $60,000 student loan.

Both her cancer, and her treatment, are aggressive. Colon cancer had spread to her lungs when they found it, and doctors were able to remove the main tumor, along with part of her colon, including 10 inches of intestine. They're hoping the chemo will take care of the more than 55 nodules in her lungs.

Sorabella's COBRA payments for his health plan were too expensive, but the couple still has minimal coverage from his wife's disability. She had been employed as a social worker in the prison system.

Sorabella is still looking for work as an accountant -- he says that he'll take part-time -- anything he can find. But after they get through this and his wife recovers -- and they're confident she will -- he'd like to go back to school and get a nursing degree.

In the meantime, however, there are more urgent matters to attend to. "We don't know how we're going to pay our bills," says Kathleen Sorabella. "But we keep telling each other as long as we love each other -- it doesn't matter. We'll get through this. I'm going to get better."

Next: Six Ways You Might Be Discriminated Against If You Put Family First

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La'Trell Williams-So

this is business at its worst. He was a great worker and his wife was very sick, what is wrong with wanting to work around her appointments. It wasn't like he was just taking time off and not wanting to make it up. think about how you would feel if it was your loved one.

October 15 2012 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was fired today.
I was told 12/19/11 I had ovarian cancer.
I had surgery 1/2/12 , i was informed my cancer had spread, I am scheduled to have another operation 2/13/12 after we will decide treatment.
I received my release yesterday and went back to work, I am also an accountant with a small company. I was informed this morning that my department needed to save money and since I earn more than any other employee i was let go.
I am still in shock, I am a single mother I have a son who is 14, without a job The first of Feb I will lose my health insurance unless I opt for cobra.
My company just merged with another, I worked 15 hours a day since August to prepare for this merger, missed my sons footballs games , i left my office at 11 pm 12/31/11, due to changes that were made at the minute, I have never had issues with quality of work or personality differences. I was admired and respected and praised by owners and the attorneys we worked with during this acquisition. Oh did I mention I was a salary employee so all those extra hours... Not one penny of compensation. But I was only paid one week.

I was informed if I needed to file for unemployment they would not contest the claim!

I am angry and now I need to have treatment and look for another job..

It just isn't right.. I will pray for this couple and for the first time myself.

January 17 2012 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"It's business. I'm running a company here, and I need to make sure the department runs,"??
Man thats cold!
Your place in Hell has officially been reserved Sir!

July 16 2011 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kris-Anna Mack

I emailed the owner.... and gently appealed to him. I hope he makes this right.

July 16 2011 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

“Family and Medical Leave Act” and he’s just hit the lawsuit jackpot.

Sued the crap out them, Carl!

July 14 2011 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone who thinks this man was fired because he asked for flexible hours is a fool. He was fired to get his expensive, sick wife off the company's policy. And while it's easy and fun to portray the company as the villain, the real evil here is our employment-based system of health coverage; it guarantees that smaller companies will be put in the position of untenable increases in cost, and possible loss of coverage for all of their employees, should one employee suddenly have this kind of massively-expensive illness.

Employers are figuring out that our employment-based system of coverage is untenable. They are acting accordingly. When will the rest of Americans figure this out? Evidently, not even when something like this happens to them. This man was NOT fired because he couldn't continue to do his job, he was fired because his wife has a very expensive illness. Period. It can happen to anyone. Wake up, folks.

July 14 2011 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to JudyD's comment
nae nae

You are so right that is exactly why he was fired. I have seen it happen before at my brother in law job with his coworker. Then my sister got cancer came back in her lungs and she was afraid that her husband would lose his job.

July 14 2011 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"This man was NOT fired because he couldn't continue to do his job, he was fired because his wife has a very expensive illness."

Yeah, DUH! Doesn't excuse his employers and now they may have a huge lawsuit on their hands. Much more expensive than letting him stay on. Total Selfishness by the company! Just because laws need to be changed doesn't give employers the right to be pr*cks.

My husbands works for a small company and his previous wife was being treated for 8 years and they never cancelled his policy or let him go because of it. Even though it was probably expensive and hard for them, they let him work fewer hours and kept him on. So decency can be done if a company is willing!

July 16 2011 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ken Atwood

Typical company. Their loyalty to you ends at their front door. And if they find out you or a spouse is sick, they'll get rid of you faster, since it'll drive their medical insurance costs up. His boss is an out and out LIAR. they were "thinking of laying him off, anyway," then they fire him, THEN advertise for his job in the paper. This company needs as much bad press as everyone can generate. Get their client list and let ALL their customers know how heartless and careless they are. I hope their CEO and the rest of their management slugs that work their are reading this!

July 12 2011 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
You're all insane!

Someone should post their client list so we can let them know what a lousy company this is.

July 12 2011 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Everyone should let them know just how terrible of a company they really are. They should be ashamed! ....
G. Arnold Haynes, President

Mary R. Butler, Vice President / Treasurer

These type of people are whats wrong with America today. Bottom line first!

July 11 2011 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

. There is no excuse for cruelty. Cold blooded people are just cold blooded people. Money is more important than God for PR and the Firing Squad representatives of Haynes Management Company.

July 10 2011 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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