Posted on April 24, 2012 at 11:52 AM
(CBS News) A Long Island woman claims she was fired after donating a kidney for her boss.
Last August, according to papers filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights, Deborah Stevens was working as an assistant to an executive at the Atlantic Automotive Group, which owns and operates car dealerships on Long Island. Her boss, Jaqueline Brucia, needed a new kidney.
Stevens offered to help and became a link in a multiple-patient kidney chain, which resulted in a kidney for Brucia. You have to give one kidney to get one.
“Mine was donated on her behalf so that she could get another one, so she could get a good one that matched her perfectly,” Stevens said
According to Stevens, the only thanks she ever got from her boss came in the form of an email reading, “Thanks more than I can ever say.”
Stevens returned to work four weeks later - even before Brucia. Three days after coming back Stevens says she didn’t feel well. “No sooner when I got through the door at my house, the phone rang and it was her, saying - ‘What are you doing? Why are you home,’” Stevens said. “And I’m like, ‘Jackie, I don’t feel well.’ And she said, ‘Well you can’t just can’t come and go as you please. People are going to think you’re getting special treatment.’”
Stevens said she had complications from the surgery, like nerve damage in her leg. But she said, the yelling didn’t stop.
“And she told me, it sounds like a personal problem and she wasn’t interested,” Stevens said. “And I said, well it’s a personal problem because it’s surgery. I’ve never had a kidney removed. And she said, ‘Oh, are you throwing this up in my face?’”
When she hired a lawyer, Stevens was given a different job at another dealership 50 miles away, before being fired.
“They just told me I wasn’t performing up to standards, that I was making mistakes,” Stevens said. “If I didn’t live through it, I would probably have a hard time believing it also. But this is exactly how it happened.”
Brucia told WCBS Monday that she “will always be very grateful that she gave me a kidney. I have nothing bad to say about her. She did a wonderful thing for me. And I wish her the best.”
In a statement, the Atlantic Auto Group said, “It is unfortunate that one employee has used her own generous act to make up a groundless claim. Atlantic Auto treated her appropriately and acted honorably and fairly, at every turn.”