Cancer-stricken man fears losing job when sick leave runs out

Posted at: 03/11/2014 10:30 PM
Updated at: 03/12/2014 10:45 AM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An Albuquerque family says their loved one is battling cancer, but is worried about keeping his job at Sandia Laboratories while he beats it.

Elke Murphy's brother Dominic Archuleta was diagnosed with leukemia last September. Since then, it's been an uphill battle- until a ray of hope.

"He was in the hospital for about a month and he was doing chemo, aggressive chemo -- they've said the...probably the most viable option for him is a bone marrow transplant, which luckily I'm a perfect match," Murphy said.

Sandia Laboratories gives all employees six months of paid sick leave for times like this. But Archuleta has used almost all of that up and his personal and vacation time will be spent by April 3. He needs four months after his transplant to recover.

"It's very stressful on him and as a family thinking about having to go off and do this treatment and everything and being stressed at the same time that he won't have a job or he won't have insurance in the middle of it," Murphy said.

Archuleta's fellow union members want to step up and donate their unused vacation time, but the union president says Sandia administration won't let them.

"They're saying that his bone marrow transplant - life saving bone marrow transplant -- is not a qualifying emergency, which is...shocking to me," Murphy said.

Sandia wouldn't confirm or deny that to us, or specify whether Archuleta's illness qualifies for the "Vacation Donation program." They say they can't comment on personnel issues. Murphy says her brother just hopes it gets resolved soon.

"He misses being at work. He really misses it, I know he does. He was able to go to a meeting the other day and he said he just missed being there," Murphy said.

Sandia did say they feel for Archuleta and his family, and will do everything they can to help him during this difficult time. They won't say exactly what that means, aside from making sure he gets his six months of paid leave time.