Skip to comments.Terminally ill woman suing resort over firing
Posted on 04/14/2006 8:23:34 AM PDT by Fawn
STUART About a month after an emergency room visit found Nina Kennedy had Stage 4 colon and liver cancer, her supervisors from Hilton Grand Vacations called her with more bad news.
"They told her she was fired," West Palm Beach attorney Charles Thomas said Thursday.
Kennedy had been the manager of the Plantation Beach Club on Hutchinson Island for 2 1/2 years when she was terminated in December after working 13 years with the company.
Regional directors told her she had been fired because she violated company policy, she said. But in a lawsuit filed in Martin Circuit Court Thursday, Kennedy and Thomas said the company hid its reasons behind a much stronger motive.
"They knew that she had a potentially terminal illness, she would have been out for a while and they didn't want to deal with it," Thomas said.
Thomas said the way the company fired Kennedy is a violation of the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, a law that protects job security for people who have to take time off work because of serious medical conditions for themselves or immediate family members.
It is the law that allows women to take time off from work after they give birth and lets people care for severely ill family members. It also gives people who are suffering from severe illness up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without fear of losing their jobs.
Kennedy said she asked Hilton officials to send her the appropriate forms for short-term disability for an entire month before she was terminated. She said they did not provide her with the forms until after she was fired and it was too late to collect.
Hilton spokeswoman Lisa Cole said she had not seen the lawsuit Thursday and that, as a practice, the company cannot comment on open cases.
Kennedy answered the phone at her Jensen Beach home Thursday evening, but said she had just returned from a chemotherapy.
"I'm sorry, I'm really not up to talking right now," she said.
Thomas said it was too early to say how much money he would seek in damages against Hilton.
He said Kennedy should be entitled to all the money she would have made had she been able to eventually return to work, plus any of the medical benefits she was deprived of as a result of her firing.
"It's not like she's going to become a millionaire from this," he said. "But at least this issue will come to light, and she'll be compensated for what she's entitled to."
I'm a highly educated, relatively gifted employee who has worked for quite a few dumbshit companies that don't much respect their employees. They know that we are easily replaceable. So, they do what they are required to do, but when push comes to shove, they push you right out. Someone else will come right into the slot if the money's right.
Let's put it another way.
There had to be sexual harassment laws because men everywhere are going to poach on the good looking women. Always have, always will. Harrumphing that "The well-run business" blah, blah, blah. Was Jack Welch a lousy businessman? No. Look who he married (and divorced, and why he got divorced). Some things are just so, and economic interests are never strong enough to override either the human sex drive or the powerful human will to dominate. So, the laws have to step in and try and balance the score. WITHOUT labor laws, employees are UTTERLY at the mercy of employers, because the employer controls the money they need to live, pay mortgages, etc.
A really good looking woman, 30 years ago, could not simply leave one job and not get sexually harrassed in the next one. That's just the way it was, and is, and everyone knows it. The law is the big hairy heavy handed club that has allowed women to stand their ground in the job they're in, and tell the big boss and the underboss to BACK OFF, and mean it, and not have to send our resumes. The power balance has been restored.
Which does not mean that powerful men down still poach on the pretty help. But it DOES mean that when it goes sour, the man is probably going to have to just suck up having the woman still there, making money, and be unable to touch her. And if he tries to retaliate, HIS butt gets fired or - if he's the top boss - HIS home assets get raided by the courts.
The law is not there to protect the strong but the weak, and there's nobody as weak in our society as a simple wage earner facing his - or her - employer.
Employers like it that way, which is understandable.
But wage earners do not, which is also understandable.
And it's a democracy.
And there are a lot more wage earners than big bosses.
Ergo, detailed employment regulations, which are not going to go away, and cannot be done without.
That's usually the case in these types of stories. This may be exactly what is being portrayed... OR she could have already been in line for termination when all of her illness stuff came down.
Yes, I understand the reality of the corporate environment and that without laws and regulations utter chaos would reign. I'm agreeing with you, it is needed to protect the weak. Survival of the fittest is still alive and well and probably always will be and it can be a very dirty world out there.
I agree with you, except for the chaos part.
Before labor regulation, chaos did not reign.
And that is unsatisfactory to everybody but the aristocrats.
Alors, labor law (which is a darn sight better than bloodshed!)
You're just the kind of person ruining the judicial system. You're already making a multimillion dollar (clearly disproportionate to any damages) judgment based on lots of emotion and scant evidence.
I knew this would be intesting to post. Half for and half against .....Clintons family medical leave act.
Good post fawn.
It helps to illustrate the other side of the "Conservative: a liberal who has been mugged" coin.
I experienced a co-worker dropping off her still-wet baby witht her parents, twice, while she and her husband took 3 month vacations abroad and the rest of us `took up the slack', but like those who hate cops or lawyers--that is, until they need their help--those who hate this act (and for that matter, the Americans with Disabilities act) become `true believers' when it is their ox that's getting gored.
Your anecdote (or this one), not withstanding, the Family Leave crap is bad--just perhaps not as bad as what it seeks to rectify.
Here at a local business when someone is very, very ill and have to take lots of sick leave, the other employees will give that person some or all of their sick leave so the person will be able to take off when needed. A very good policy.
This law may be President Clinton's and the Democrat 103rd Congress' most positive legacy. The type of ruthless and short-sighted behavior Hilton Hotels Corp. is engaging in here in this case is the reason this type of intrusive legislation gets passed and expanded. Almost every government regulation was brought about by an abuse of our free market system in the pursuit of a short-term profit.
Anyone, like myself, who advocates a free and generally unregulated market place should be the first to criticize and punish this kind of malicious abuse of a loyal but seriously ill employee. As a frequent business traveler and Hilton Honors program member, Hilton and its subsidiaries just lost my business.
Notwithstanding that, yes, it is economically ignorant. You can cite all the bogus unemployment numbers you want, but I'll wager that you'll read the next thread about outsourcing and write complaining about how we're regulating companies to death.
realize that the law has to provide recourse against bad acts of employers.
Nonsense. It doesn't, and it didn't for 200 years. The point was that irresponsible--voracious? mendacious?--companies make that sort of legislation inevitable for all of us. The decision makers should be horse-whipped.
It did not work in the previous 200 years.
And that is why there is labor regulation now, to curb the abuses that experience has shown will arise.
What is it with Hilton??? Yesterday the story about the D.C. restaurant, and now this. They must have hired Simon LeGree as CEO.
In cases like this one, the solution is for the other employees to look closely at their situations and realize that they are one step or disease from the same fate. An employee worth having would then begin looking for another place to work, and the company would eventually be bankrupt. Just the threat of that, if nothing else, is a framework to keep business in line. Plus, since we know this story, what rational person would take employment there--what person would replace this lady? Not an ideal solution, surely, as I said. But it's much better than socialist laws allowing whiners to run to Daddy (the government) for help.
Liberty, including private ownership and control of the means of production, is not a panacea. I don't maintain that. It is just liberty, which is enough justification in itself.
Too much insecurity.
I understand where you're coming from, but I simply don't agree. I think that reasonable labor protections is worth the cost.
Oh dear, where is your compassion?
Actually, my sights were set on the same level that yours are. I have seen to much employee fraud in my days.
Medical insurance, corporate and personal are great things when sickness strikes.
Exactly if an employer was doing something to me that I didn't like I would go elsewhere. They are always trying to give me bonuses and shows of gratitude because I make them a lot of money.
Also a long term employer will treat older employees well, because younger more mobile employees will see the treatment and become less loyal.
We seem to be heading in the French direction however where your employment is between you, your employer and the politicians.