A legal secretary is suing a midtown law firm for allegedly cutting her loose just hours after she revealed that she had a cancerous tumor. In October 2007, Theodora Benedict sent an e-mail informing her employers at Tarnow & Juvelier that doctors had diagnosed her with a rare tumor behind her sinuses, and she would have to miss a week for surgery and a week for recovery. But instead of "get well soon" cards, Benedict, 61, says she got the boot—two hours after clicking send.
"I thought to myself, 'Can [they] do this? Isn't this illegal? This can't be right,' " Benedict tells the Post. "I was hit broadside between the eyes, sort of shocked." She says her boss, Martin Juvelier, told her that she'd be able to collect unemployment benefits. "It's like he was doing me a favor," Benedict says. Juvelier denies the allegations and insists Benedict "definitely wanted to leave. I told her, 'You're always welcome to work for me.' "
After she filed a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights, Benedict got a letter from the firm inviting her back. But the reunion was short-lived; after her return, the firm's entire staff was dismissed because Tarnow & Juvelier was folding. But it turns out the firm was just being reincorporated under Juvelier's name, and all the former employees were rehired, except Benedict, the lawsuit alleges. Juvelier claims the firm was reorganized after a split with partner Herman Tarnow, but Benedict's lawyer tells the Post, "It was clearly an egregious and willful attempt to avoid liability. How could it not be?"