The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 20, 2012

Snyder County woman sues over firing for taking time off to care for dying husband

 WILLIAMSPORT-A 42-year-old Snyder County mother of seven claims she was illegally fired by a Middletown air freight business because she took time off to take her late husband for cancer treatment.

Dianne Schweitzer contends in a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. Middle District Court that Forward Air Inc. and two of its executives violated the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Schweitzer worked at Forward Air from December 2007 until her termination Feb. 16. During her employment she was promoted to terminal/operations and sales manager with a salary of $45,000 plus a bonus.

According to the complaint, Schweitzer’s then partner, Craig Schweitzer, on Aug. 2, 2011, was diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 melanoma. They were engaged at the time and were married Aug. 13, 2011.

She alleges Pat Donahue, regional vice president of service who is a defendant, asked her prior to the marriage if it was for the benefits.

Last September, after the melanoma spread throughout her husband’s body, Schweitzer obtained a second opinion and course of treatment from Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia.

The suit states she then submitted a FMLA medical certification to Forward Air and was out of work between Oct. 3 and Nov. 14 assisting her husband. When she returned to work she claims she told her superiors she would need additional leave at the beginning of each month due to his treatments.

In December, she claims Donahue sent an email to Tim Osbourne, regional vice president and also a defendant, stating she had not been available to customers and when she was, she was not helpful.

Schweitzer says she overlooked adding her husband to her employer-sponsored insurance when they got married but did so in January to help pay the 20 percent of his treatment bills not covered by his insurance.

Donahue is accused of sending her an email on Jan. 3 while she was in Philadelphia with her husband claiming he was unaware she was off and criticized her for not for not keeping him informed with her weekly schedule.

On Feb. 12, according to the suit, Osbourne told her she was being let go, telling her “now, you’ll have time to focus on what you need to focus on.” At that time Schweitzer said he had accrued vacation and FMLA time.

She claims she is approved for jobless benefits but has been unable to obtain comparable employment. Her husband died June 20.

 The suit seeks unspecified damages along with lost wages and retirement benefits.

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