Fired Because of Cancer


By: Matthew DietzGregorio Reyes

Gregorio Reyes was hired in October 2007, as the Regional Sales Manager for the Caribbean for IDEX in the Fluid and Metering Segment. IDEX is a three billion dollar corporation that specializes in fluid and metering technologies, health and science technologies, dispensing equipment, and fire, safety and other diversified products.

Since he was hired, Gregorio’s role as Regional Manager was to manage the business through distribution for IDEX companies that were represented throughout the Caribbean region.Reyes with two guys

In November 2010, Gregorio was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer, hospitalized, and underwent surgery. Immediately thereafter, Gregorio reported to his supervisor, Christopher Clarke, what had transpired and that it would be a lengthy recuperation process. Gregorio told Mr. Clark that he required chemotherapy starting in January, with a total of 12 bi-weekly sessions. The process, barring any complications, would take from 6-8 months.

At that time, IDEX appeared to be supportive. Prior to his leaving IDEX in January of 2011, Mr. Clarke advised John Boland, Mr. Clarke’s direct supervisor and Vice President that Gregorio Reyes was the person who was best suited to replace him based on Mr. Reyes’s experience and product knowledge; and Mr. Reyes had cancer. But Mr. Boland did not take Mr. Clarke’s recommendation and hired Raul Aguilar to replace Mr. Clark.

During this time, Gregorio did not stop working, and he loved his job and relationships that he built with his customers. He did not ask for family and medical leave time, and he did not ask for short term disability. During the chemotherapy, Gregorio had to be hospitalized due to complications with blood clots in his left leg. At this time, he advised his new supervisor, Raul Aguilar, that the chemotherapy would be pushed back an additional month and that he would not be able to travel in any form during his chemotherapy.

Gregorio continued to work. Mr. Aguilar spoke to Gregorio and asked him to work even while he was in the midst of chemotherapy treatments, and the exact nature and prognosis of Mr. Reyes was discussed with both Mr. Aguilar and John P. Boland, on several occasions. Gregorio was asked direct questions about his illness and the treatment. On several occasions Raul Aguilar asked about the names of the medications that were being used for his chemotherapy and the type of procedures being used. He also inquired about Gregorio’s blood cell count and the time it would take for a full recovery. Upon being asked again, Gregorio told Raul he should contact his doctor if he needed further clarification, or if he preferred, Gregorio could ask for a letter from her explaining his condition. On April 6, 2011, Gregorio received an email from John Boland asking “I’m curious on your cancer diagnosis – I suspect you have a non-small cell variety and are Stage III” . Gregorio was also asked whether his health would prohibit him from continuing to work in the future. Gregorio continued to work, even during critical stages of his condition, and aspired to grow IDEX even more.

After his regimen of Chemotherapy was completed, Gregorio began traveling again, and made several trips from August 2011 to November 2011.

Without notice or cause, Gregorio was discharged on December 8, 2011. When asked why, Gregorio was advised that it was not due to his performance at all, but instead, due to a restructuring of the region. As one of the top producers, Gregorio was shocked as it did not make sense why his position would be cut. Gregorio made it clear that he was interested in moving to keep his job, as most of his career involved relocating for jobs, and travelling for my job. Gregorio was ignored. Gregorio Reyes came to Matthew Dietz of Disability Independence Group to assist him in enforcing his rights as a person with a disability.

Gregorio Reyes filed a complaint with the EEOC, and the EEOC found cause that he was subject to discrimination. On July 27, 2015, on the day after the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission filed suit on behalf of Gregorio Reyes. Robert Weisberg, regional attorney for EEOC’s Miami Office, stated, “A longtime employee who continues to successfully perform his or her job responsibilities should not be fired because he has been diagnosed with a medical condition such as cancer. The ADA prohibits such conduct, and EEOC takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the law.”

HUMAN-ANIMAL INTERACTION: Can it prevent disease?


By: Sharon LangerDog paw print

In the past 20 years there have been many studies conducted that measured the therapeutic value of human-animal interaction. A companion animal may reduce anxiety, loneliness, and depression and thus delay the onset, decrease severity, or even slow the progression of stress-related conditions. Pets can stimulate someone to exercise, provide social support, and can help someone socialize in a group setting. They can be our therapists as well as our companions. Pets have been shown to be a source of tactile comfort by increasing sensory stimulation while decreasing blood pressure and heart rate.

In 1990, the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction organizations was founded to gather together national associations and related organizations interested in advancing the understanding and appreciation of H-A interaction. This organization has been officially designated as a working partner of WHO-The World Health Organization.

The Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition, in England, gave a $2 million grant to the Eunice Shriver national Institute of Child Health and Human Development to research further H-A interaction to specifically study on a larger scale how children perceive, relate to and think about animals and how pets in the home impact children’s social and emotional development.

If you have read this far into this article, I suspect you are an animal lover who already understands the power they bring to the human condition. I find it interesting that this power is actually being scientifically tested, and the results should help those of us who work with and for animals to make our case to the rest of the community.

Alternative Forms of Therapy


By: Anastasia Gaertnercircular chart of complementary and alternative medicine.

            Alternative forms of therapy can be a beneficial supplement or substitute for treating a variety of physical and psychological diseases and symptoms. Alternative therapy refers to any treatment that is used in place of traditional medical or therapeutic care, while complementary therapy refers to any form of treatment that is used in conjunction with traditional medicine.

 There are many different kinds of alternate therapies, and there are several different classifications for a variety of diverse treatments. We have listed several different types throughout the newsletter, these therapies use different techniques and different mediums to address emotional, cognitive, physical, and social needs to promote greater well-being. Incorporating the use of one or multiple different kinds of therapy or treatment can have a significant impact on one’s overall health and well-being.

Litigation: Treatment Alternatives


By: Matthew Dietz

Treatment Alternatives – The importance of having sober houses in residential areas –

“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three …”Martin Luther King Jr.

Alcoholism and drug addiction are considered impairments under the definitions of a disability, because as a medical matter, addiction is a chronic illness that is never cured but from which one may nonetheless recover. It is a truism that the longer one is in alcohol or drug abuse treatment and surrounded by recovering people, the better the outcomes for long term sobriety. Group living arrangements in a sober house help recovering addicts to keep sober because of the transparency, and they also provide residents with fewer opportunities to be lonely — a major trigger for relapse into addiction.

I had the pleasure of representing Treatment Alternatives in their attempts to develop a larger and more comprehensive group home for persons recovering from addiction. For over 25 years, Treatment Alternatives has offered a continuum of care approaches to treatment, providing residents with a step down or up a level of treatment, determined by need. Men and women live in gender-specific, tight-knit communities that allow them to go to school or work. There are strict schedules about rising, treatment, work, evening house meetings and mandatory curfew. To help clients learn how to engage in life without drugs or alcohol, weekend activities are conducted as a group. Everyone participates in activities-whether it is going bowling, fishing, going to the movies, going to the beach, boating, or go-carting.The residents learn to support each other as they individually and communally meet the challenges of early sobriety. The family environment at Treatment Alternatives creates a safe, secure, and compassionate environment in which men and women can build their foundation for sobriety.
It is important to have such facilities located in residential communities because it gives these people the opportunity to reintegrate into community-based living. Although there is no danger in it, many neighbors object to living near these homes.
However, the Fair Housing Act prohibits a city or town from refusing to allow these people the ability to live in a dwelling when the refusal is based on generalizations and stereotypes of people’s disabilities and the attendant threats of safety that often
accompany these beliefs. While a city or town can regulate land use and pass zoning laws, the Fair Housing Act was intended to prohibit the use of zoning regulations to limit the ability of persons with disabilities to live in the residence of their choice in the community. This means that a municipality must change, waive,or make exceptions in their zoning rules to ensure people with disabilities the same opportunities as those without disabilities, taking into consideration the impact of the zoning rule upon the disabled person.
For sober living homes, you have several unrelated people living together in a single dwelling, and this may require a request to change a zoning regulation that limits a dwelling to a single family of related persons. This request to change–or reasonable accommodation– depends on many factors, including the size of the group home, the neighborhood surrounding the group home, and the utilities available for the group home.
For Treatment Alternatives, the goal is for the client to return to his or her life as a productive human being. Each resident must acknowledge, understand and address the basic responses to the life that he or she has lived, and unless that is done, the addict will endlessly repeat thought and behavior patterns; thus leading to relapse again and again— a painful but common occurrence.