When Jamie Cryzter noticed a small lump on her breast early May, she thought her biggest problem was cancer, not losing her job. But when the 30-year-old Sharon, Pa., woman missed work to go to an emergency mammogram appointment, the restaurant where she had worked for eight months fired her.
Here's what happened: When her lump grew in size two weeks after initially seeing it, Crytzer knew she had to get herself checked out and immediately called the doctor. She had an initial appointment on June 1 and was scheduled for a mammogram on June 15 in a town 15 miles away.
Given that breast cancer runs in her family and the anxiety she felt that comes with having any form of cancer, period, Jamie eagerly took an appointment time that had opened up on June 8 due to a cancellation. She missed work at the Hickory Bar & Grille in Hermitage, Pa., to make it.
"The following morning, Tuesday, June 9, I came into work for my shift a little early to speak with the manager on duty about the situation that occurred on Monday," Crytzer told A Plus in an email. "I was terminated right then."
The reason? Job abandonment, which Crytzer was told is defined as "something similar to three days away from your employment without notification of where you are and no inclination to return." She says that although her manager knew about the situation, she was terminated on the spot for missing work since "this was not a life or death situation."
Cryzter would beg to differ.
"I have an extensive history of cancer in my family resulting in most deaths caused by the disease. My paternal grandmother died from metastatic breast cancer," she said. She also said the week-long wait, though just a week, was agonizing.
She decided to drive to the company's headquarters to speak to its HR department. The woman who worked in the office was nice initially, but when she called Crytzer back after hearing the restaurant's side of the story and told Crytzer the company backed their decision to terminate her.
Frustrated, Crytzer took the Facebook to explain her situation in a post, which has since been taken down.
"I wanted a little comfort in knowing that I made the right choice to accept the earlier appointment," she told A Plus.
It quickly went viral. A woman who Cryzter didn't even know set up a Facebook page in an attempt to gain support for the fired waitress. And those who sided with Crytzer on what had happened took to the company's Yelp page to write bad reviews. Those reviews have since been deleted.
The company's website lists a woman named Linda Leetch as the manager of the bar and grill where Crytzer had been fired. A quick look at her public Facebook page revealed that she shared a "Cure All Cancers" post in early May, ironically, shortly before Crytzer's discovery.
A Plus reached out to Hickory Bar & Grille for comment. It has yet to respond.
Luckily, Crytzer's lump results came back as benign but she hopes that her story can encourage proper training on dealing with employee health crisis.
"I hope that people take health concerns more seriously and education themselves on early detection and how vital that is to the outcome of some diagnoses," she told A Plus. "It shouldn't have to be a hard pressed choice whether or not you keep your job or you take care of your health."
She's on the hunt for a new job but would rather be with an employer who backs her and her health 100 percent, anyway.