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Hospice nurse fired after beginning treatment for breast cancer

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 19:32:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nolensville hospice care nurse was fired from her job after she was diagnosed and began treatment for breast cancer.

Chrissy Ballard worked for Caris Healthcare, a hospice care company headquartered in Knoxville but with offices in Middle Tennessee.

According to her husband, Matt Ballard, Chrissy had a passion for helping her patients through the end of their lives. When she was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, she wanted to keep her job and eventually return once she overcame the disease.

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However, the Ballards were surprised when Chrissy's boss called in June and told them Chrissy would be let go. The reason for her termination is listed as health reason, though a termination letter shows she left in good standing and was eligible for rehire.

Chrissy was shocked. Matt said she took the loss of her job hard, but what really hurt were the loss of her benefits. Matt said he was told it was a business decision. Chrissy was let go one month before her one year anniversary with the company.

"The hypocrisy of being a company whose mission statement is Hospice with Compassion, Hospice with Grace," said Matt. "When you are on the flip side of that and you are an employee who is fired after their cancer diagnosis, it is devastating."

Originally, the Ballards weren't sure whether or not what Caris Healthcare did was legal.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is now investigating the company and the firing.

Chrissy's cancer treatment is going well. She's in radiation treatment and surgery to remove the tumor was successful.

When she's done fighting the cancer, Chrissy hopes to work in cancer advocacy if she can.

"I look at nurses that might come behind me. Because I do not want any other nurse to have to go through this," she said. "Because if they get their cancer diagnosis and their company doesn't stand behind them it is devastating."

If the EEOC investigation finds wrong doing on behalf of Caris, the Ballards could sue.

Caris Healthcare released the following statement:

Caris Healthcare is concerned about every employee’s health and well-being.

As is the case with any filed complaint, we cannot discuss specifics of this situation. However, it is important to note that Caris Healthcare strives to protect the rights of all employees and follow proper steps regarding any employee’s departure from the company. The individual remains eligible for rehire, with reasonable work accommodations, if required and requested.

Our company was founded on providing grace and compassion, and we make every effort to give the same respect and empathy to the employees who help the families in our care.