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Could donating your kidney to your boss get you fired?

Apparently so, at least for one employee who generously donated a kidney so her boss could move up the donor list to only later be fired for missing work due to taking time off to recover from the surgery. Although this particular story comes from the other side of the country, California residents may find it interesting due to the sensationalistic aspects of a case the press have dubbed the "kidney donor case."

If she was indeed fired for missing work due to a medical issue, she was wrongfully terminated per the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, which makes it illegal to retaliate or discriminate against an employee for taking a leave of absence for medical reasons, or to care for a family member. Although it is not against the law to donate a kidney to your boss, it is against the law for your employer to then pressure you to return to work when you are disabled from a medical procedure, for any reason.

The employee and her boss first met when they worked together at the company. The donor left that position to work elsewhere, however later returned for a visit. That is how she came to learn the woman needed a kidney, so she offered to donate one of hers.

Shortly after that visit the donor returned to that company and claims she was being prepped to be her boss's alternate donor, should her first donor not work out, which just happened to be the case. Although the employee was not an exact match for her boss, she offered to donate to another needy recipient so her boss could move up the list.

It was after this surgery that the employee claims her boss began pressuring her to return to work. Her complaint states her boss yelled at her over the phone, berated her in front of other co-workers and demoted her.

After the employee consulted with a psychiatrist and an employment law attorney, her employer was contacted regarding her complaints and it is at this point the employee claims she was wrongfully terminated. Under both California and federal FMLA laws the employee would be entitled to take unpaid time off to recover from her surgery. An attorney would argue that since the employee was temporarily disabled, her employer was obligated to make accommodations for her absence and change in work schedule during her recovery.

Source: Reuters: "NY Woman Fired After Donating Kidney to Boss," Stephanie Rabiner, April 24, 2012

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