The federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is suing the Blood Bank of Hawaii, claiming it terminated an employee who was fighting cancer because she ran out of sick leave.
The nonprofit would not comment on the specifics, citing the pending lawsuit.
But BBH President and CEO Kim-Anh Nguyen said in a statement: “Blood Bank of Hawaii is aware that a lawsuit has been filed by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. We uphold all Equal Employment Opportunity principles and it is our policy to comply with federal and state laws. We are committed to resolving the lawsuit and ensuring all BBH employees are duly protected under the applicable laws.”
According to the lawsuit, Jane Magaoay began working at the Blood Bank of Hawaii as a laboratory assistant in 2012. She was diagnosed with breast cancer two years later.
The lawsuit claims Magaoay took additional time off to undergo chemotherapy treatment and the Blood Bank terminated her for exceeding the 12-week maximum leave policy.
The EEOC said that is a violation of federal law.
"They failed to provide her with additional leave as a reasonable accommodation for her medical condition. And during the investigation we found that other employees are also terminated under the same type of situation," said EEOC Honolulu Director Glory Gervacio Saure.
The lawsuit said two other Blood Bank of Hawaii employees were also wrongfully terminated because of violating the leave policy. The lawsuit alleges one employee needed more time off for carpel tunnel surgery the other asked for additional time off for rotator cuff surgery.
"Every individual has a disability that's unique to themselves so that's why the employer has to work with that individual. See what kind of accommodation they would need with respect to their disability," said Saure.
Saure said many employers follow family leave laws, but don't realize that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires them to work to accommodate employees who have disabilities.
Magaoay blogs about her cancer experience writing, "at that initial shock of losing my job, it felt like someone kicking you while you're down."
The blog says she is a part-time teacher at a public high school and if there is one thing she learned from her journey with breast cancer, it is to "Embrace the change -- to celebrate life and enjoy the new you.”