A Long Island nurse is suing his former Farmingdale employer after he said he was fired for requesting too much time off to care for his daughter while she battled cancer.
Daniel McCarthy, 42, of West Babylon, said his employers at Daleview Care Center, a Farmingdale nursing home, were hesitant to approve paid time off to care for his 5-year-old daughter Cassidy after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer.
McCarthy said in the suit he believes his employers then used a minor dispute with his boss to retaliate and fire him.
The center denied McCarthy’s allegations.
“We are an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate or retaliate against its employees for any reason,” administrator Mary Kochaniwsky said in a statement on Friday.
McCarthy’s attorneys filed the suit on his behalf in the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of New York on April 23. The suit seeks damages and attorney fees from the center.
“It was a tremendous amount of stress, it made it 10 times worse,” McCarthy said of the experience in an interview. “You have to worry about paying the bills.”
McCarthy, the center’s former assistant nursing director, said in the suit that he was a star employee at Daleview, receiving several promotions, raises and awards — including the prestigious 2016 New York State Health Facilities Association registered nurse of the year — since being hired in October 2011.
He had accrued more than 150 hours of unused sick and vacation hours by the time his daughter was diagnosed with cancer in October 2016 and planned to use the time to assist with Cassidy’s care, starting with two weeks off, according to the suit.
According to the suit, McCarthy’s supervisors attempted to convince him to take fewer days off work and use unpaid family and medical leave. He was ultimately allowed to use the paid time off for the initial two-week absence, and then for a second absence in December to be present for his daughter’s chemotherapy.
“He was feeling a tremendous amount of pressure to be at the center and the family’s insurance depended on his job,” said his attorney, Manhattan-based Lawrence M. Pearson.
McCarthy said he was then fired on January 26, two days after getting into a dispute with his boss over how to discipline an employee for an infraction.
The termination resulted in a disruption of his health insurance, which was paying for his daughter’s care, McCarthy said. The family was eventually able to retain their coverage through COBRA and his daughter will finish chemotherapy on May 22.
McCarthy said he’s bewildered by the experience.
“I went from New York State R.N. of the year and now I’m here being terminated, it’s like the ‘Twilight Zone,’” he said. “How does that happen?”