MOORE, Okla. — A Oklahoma woman said she was fired because she didn’t return to work one day after brain surgery like her company demanded. Without a job and health insurance she was receiving unemployment compensation. But now she said the company is fighting that.
News Channel 4 first spoke with Christie Jones a few weeks ago after she said she was fired from Furr’s Buffet, a restaurant in Moore. Jones said she became ill at work and soon learned she had a brain tumor.
She showed us all the medical paperwork, including a copy of a letter stating she had to return to work the day after her surgery or risk being fired. Jones said she applied for unemployment income the day after and received it for a weeks until days ago when she said Furr’s Buffet told the Unemployment Administration that she quit.
“It was almost spiteful,” Jones said. “I mean why would you do that to somebody that you terminated that you put out of a job.”
She said she filed an appeal but has to wait 4-6 weeks until a decision is made.
“When the employer puts the person out of work for no fault of their own, that’s what unemployment is for,” Jones said. “We pay into that. I’ve never been unemployed and I’ve worked my whole life and this was one situation that was completely out of my control.”
Days before Christmas the timing couldn’t be any worse.
“They just took her and our family and threw us out in the cold and they don’t care,” Her husband Dan Jones said, I hope they don’t have any problems looking at themselves in the mirror during these holidays.”
In addition to not being able to afford travel to visit family for the holidays, the medical bills are piling up,” Jones said “We had three MRIs at $10,000 a piece, two CT scans at $10,000 a piece. The surgery alone was $12,000 and we haven’t even gotten the hospital bill from the surgery yet.”
After weeks of calling, Furr’s Buffet finally responded. They released this statement:
Plano, TX – December 21, 2012 — Christlyn Jones was employed in our Moore, OK restaurant as a member of our management team. When her illness extended several weeks and she didn’t know when she would return, the need to fill the position became increasingly urgent. When Mrs. Jones indicated that she was able to return to work, we offered her a position at one of three alternate locations, and she declined that offer. We are happy to know that she is feeling better, and wish her all the best. –Furr’s Fresh Buffet
Jones said the company never offered her any other options. She points out the closest locations outside of Moore are Lawton and Plano, Texas. She also said the document she signed stating she did not want to relocate was when she was hired, not after she was let go.
Oklahoma is a right to work state. Under the law companies have the right to fire employee without reason and employees can leave a job under that some condition.