Jackie Brucia, boss who fired the woman who donated an organ for her.
Talk about brown-nosing your boss. You’d think giving up a kidney to help save your boss’s life would mean rock-solid job security. Apparently, not so much in New York.
Debbie Stevens worked for Atlantic Automotive Group as an assistant to Jackie Brucia, the company’s controller in West Islip. Seeking warmer weather, Stevens quit her job and moved to Florida. Several months later while visiting New York, Stevens dropped by the office to say “hello” to Brucia and her former co-employees. During her visit at Atlantic Automotive, Stevens learned Brucia needed a kidney transplant and offered to donate one of her own. One thing led to another and in the fall of 2010, Stevens moved back to New York and resumed working for Brucia at Atlantic Automotive.
In January 2011, Brucia got bad news when she learned that the person who had agreed to donate a kidney to her was not a match. Brucia called Stevens into her office, explained what had happened, and Stevens renewed her offer to donate a kidney to Brucia. More complications followed. It turns out Stevens was not a match for Brucia, either, but Brucia had a solution. Brucia convinced Stevens to donate her kidney to someone else (whom Stevens did not know). This would move Brucia up the organ donor list. However, for some reason, Brucia was not all that grateful.
Stevens’ kidney donation surgery occurred in August 2011, and there were some complications. As a result, Stevens missed four weeks of work while she was on medical leave. Stevens says Brucia pressured her to return to work early. Once Stevens was back on the job, Stevens complained that Brucia berated her in front of co-workers and eventually demoted her. The demotion meant Stevens would need to commute 50 miles to her new assignment. When her attorney wrote a letter to Atlantic Automotive complaining about Stevens’ mistreatment, Stevens was fired.
Not surprisingly, Stevens has filed a complaint with the New York Human Rights Commission accusing Brucia and Atlantic Automotive of disability discrimination and retaliation.
About the author
Charlie Plumb is a labor and employment attorney with the McAfee & Taft law firm. He represents management in all phases of employment law and labor relations. Much of his practice is dedicated to counseling employers on compliance with a broad range of state and federal employment laws and regulations and educating management on best practices for avoiding disputes arising from the employer/employee relationship. He also has extensive litigation experience before federal and state courts, regulatory and administrative agencies, and in arbitration matters involving claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, retaliatory discharge, breach of contract, and constitutional law violations.
As part of his labor practice, Charlie represents unionized employers in collective bargaining negotiations with labor unions, arbitrates grievances, and defends management against a variety of claims before the National Labor Relations Board and Department of Justice and in state and federal courts. He also represents employers who seek to maintain a non-unionized workforce by counseling management on union avoidance strategies and by providing training and advice to management and supervisors. His clients include numerous municipalities throughout Oklahoma and companies engaged in the manufacturing and distribution, construction, energy, public utility, technology and business services industries.
Charlie is a member of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section and the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Labor Council. He is also the designated representative of McAfee & Taft as the exclusive member firm representing Oklahoma in the Employers Counsel Network, a nationwide affiliation of leading law firms providing legal assistance and representation to employers.
Charlie is a frequent speaker and author on workplace issues. He is also co-editor of the Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, a monthly review of new court decisions, regulations and laws that affect state employers.
Charlie’s achievements have earned him inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (labor and employment law), Oklahoma Super Lawyers (employment and labor, civil litigation defense), Benchmark Litigation and Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, where he has been lauded as “an impressive public speaker who utilizes his vast experience to effectively defend clients.” Researchers at Chambers & Partners also quoted market observers as admiring him for his “practicality of advice and specialized knowledge of complex legal issues,” with sources commenting that he “immediately commands respect, is always up to date and knows how to handle a problem.”