I needed surgery, now I might lose my job

Every day until the end of the legislative session, we will be featuring a story from a worker highlighting the need for Paid Family and Medical Leave. If you want to share your story, please go here.



Dina CruzMy name is Dina Quniones Cruz and I live in West Haven. I write to urge you to pass HB 6932.

I work for a New Haven-based healthcare agency as a CAN/LPN. I have worked in the healthcare field now for 28 years and I still make just ten dollars an hour. In February, I underwent gallbladder surgery. I took a few days off to recuperate, unpaid. My doctor told me that I should rest for a few weeks, but I got right back to work because I live paycheck to paycheck and missing one paycheck means I cannot pay my bills. When I returned to work, my weekly hours were slashed from 54 per week to 14. I complained about this. It wasn’t my choice to need surgery – why should I be punished for it? They raised my hours to about 30 per week.

Approximately one month after I went back to work, I was feeling so lightheaded at work that I needed to sit down. The next thing I knew was that I was being rushed to the hospital for complications from my surgery. I was in the hospital – and missed work – for three more days.

The surgeon told me: “Dina, you need to rest!” So I asked him: “Are you going to pay my bills?”

When I returned to work, I was given a disciplinary warning – with “friendly reminder” written at the top – that I had missed eight days of work in 2015 for my surgery and the return to the hospital. I received no pay for any of the days I missed and now I am still in danger of losing my job. All because I had necessary surgery.

If I had been able to take paid time off when I had my surgery, enough time to heal properly, I would not be in this situation because I probably would not have needed to go to the hospital again. Not having paid family and medical leave actually ended up making me even sicker. I urge you to pass the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act so hard workers like me don’t lose their income just because we are human and get sick!