EMT with 9/11-related cancer forced to retire after sick leave runs out

FDNY EMT Jennifer Dougherty said she is shocked by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to block extended sick time for 9/11 responders


By EMS1 Staff

NEW YORK — An FDNY EMT battling 9/11-related cancer was forced to retire because her sick leave ran out.

New York Daily News reported that Jennifer Dougherty was told in June that her allotted sick time was running out as she battled ovarian cancer that she got from her time working at Ground Zero.

An FDNY EMT battling 9/11-related cancer was forced to retire because her sick leave ran out. (Photo/YouTube)
An FDNY EMT battling 9/11-related cancer was forced to retire because her sick leave ran out. (Photo/YouTube)

“They told me that I was going to be off the books on July 1, so I had to run across the street and retire,” she said. “I knew that meant I would no longer be getting a paycheck or health benefits and I needed to keep them.”

“I had stuck with (EMS) for 25 years and my goal was to stay until 30 years,” she said. “I feel like I was coerced into retiring just so I could keep my health benefits.”

A legislative memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio recently stopped state legislature that would give EMS providers who are sick from their efforts following 9/11 the same benefits as firefighters and police officers.

“I think it’s a poor situation,” Dougherty said. “If firefighters and police officers are entitled to unlimited sick leave, why are we so different?

The memo said the bill poses “an unknown cost to the city” and “provides for a vague series of administrative determinations.”

“This bill does a poor job of translating a particularly complex process to the context of active service,” the memo said.

“We thank 9/11 responders for the heroic work they carried out to protect their fellow New Yorkers and create a more resilient city,” City Hall spokesman Raul Contrares said in a statement. “Like we’ve done before in the bargaining process, we’ll engage our workforce on leave benefits, including the current benefits available to 9/11 responders. However, the bill as it currently stands is flawed.”

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