Deborah Stevens said she was bullied and fired after donating a kidney so that her boss could get a kidney transplant.
In a complaint filed this week with the New York Division of Human Rights. Stevens says she donated a kidney in August 2011 through the National Kidney Registry on behalf of her boss, Jacqueline Brucia, a comptroller at Atlantic Automotive Group, Inc., which operates car dealerships in New York. The donation allowed Brucia to get a kidney transplant.
Following the surgery and four weeks of recovery, Stevens, who was Brucia’s administrative assistant, returned to work on Sept. 6, 2011. But the kidney donor said she continued to suffer various intestinal, digestive and neurological impacts as a result of her surgery.
On her third day back at work after her surgery, Stevens says she left work early because she was feeling ill. She says Brucia, who had not even returned to the office yet after her kidney implant, called Stevens from her home and said – “You can’t come and go as you please.”
According to Stevens’ complaint, Brucia’s treatment of her “changed dramatically” after Brucia returned to the office – “Brucia was routinely curt and dismissive with Stevens and was unnecessarily critical of her work performance.”
At one point, Brucia allegedly told Stevens: “Don’t expect to be treated special because of what you did for me.”
Stevens said Brucia bullied her, berated and humiliated her in front of others and reduced her duties. Brucia even allegedly refused to let Stevens leave her desk, exascerbating Stevens’ health problems in the aftermath of her surgery. When Brucia complained of her health condition, she says Brucia responded, “I don’t care; sounds like a personal problem.”
Stevens finally complained to the company’s human resources department, which resulted in her transfer to an inferior position at a location 50 miles away.
On March 5, 2012, Stevens’ attorney sent the company a letter charging that Stevens had been subjected to disability discrimination in violation of federal and state disability laws. According to her complaint, Stevens’ was fired on April 11, 2012 “purportedly for performance reasons, despite having never been placed on any type of performance improvement plan.”
Stevens told CBS News that the only thanks she got from Brucia for her left kidney was an email stating: “Thanks more than I can ever say.”
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.”