Sysco: Don’t Fire Employees for Getting Sick

Target: William J. DeLaney III, CEO of Sysco

Goal: Tell Sysco that they cannot fire employees solely because of medical conditions

Most people take many factors into account when considering a new job. Commute, salary, schedule, and work environment are all mulled over by potential employees. But benefits, especially health insurance, can alone determine whether or not someone takes a job. With insurance so difficult to secure these days, having a job that will provide access to healthcare can mean a great deal. It certainly did for Martin Cupid, a 32-year-old father of three who worked for Sysco and was given the grave news that his kidneys were rapidly failing. Cupid was committed to keeping his job as well as maintaining his health, undergoing an alternative treatment to dialysis that allowed him keep working full time. In the meantime, he managed to get himself onto the wait list for a kidney transplant. When given the phenomenal news that he had been approved for the transplant and that a donor had been found, he eagerly told his bosses at Sysco, his employer for a decade, who congratulated him. Three days later, they terminated his employment and took away Martin Cupid’s health insurance and access to the costly procedure.

Firing Cupid was illegal, a clear violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Cupid had not needed any time off; he worked 40 hours a week and he maintained both his health and work productivity. Sysco has claimed that Cupid was let go as part of a downsizing project, but only four other people from Cupid’s factory (which has over 300 employees) were let go, and all of them months before he was.

Cupid was fired because letting him go was cheaper than helping him get healthy. Companies should not be able to terminate an employee because they need to use their insurance too much. Tell Sysco to treat their employees fairly and give Martin Cupid his job and insurance back.


Dear Mr. DeLaney,

Recently your company severed ties with Martin Cupid, a father of three young children who had been a dedicated Sysco employee for ten years. The reason for Mr. Cupid’s termination was not his work. He did not steal from the company or shirk responsibility. He was prompt and responsible. All said and done, Martin Cupid was a model employee. Mr. Cupid was fired because he was sick and in need of an expensive kidney transplant.

It is an absolute travesty that this was allowed to happen within your corporation. Your employees were offered insurance for a reason. Obviously a part of it was to entice them to join the company, but that cannot have been all of it. It is infinitely better to have insured employees than to have uninsured employees; if they are insured they do not have to miss too much work when ill or injured.

Now you have the case of a man who is seriously sick, and despite the fact that his kidneys were failing continued to work. When it became clear that he was going to use the insurance that he got through Sysco to get a much needed kidney transplant (his bosses congratulated him when he found out) he was let go without warning and told that he was a victim of downsizing. The last people let go as part of the “downsizing” were fired four months prior. Mr. Cupid was not even considered for another job within the company.

Mr. DeLaney, this is a clear violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. There is not evidence that Mr. Cupid’s termination was for any reason other than his health and what treating his condition would cost your company. As you surely know Sysco makes billions of dollars every year—the company can surely afford to pay for a dedicated employee’s kidney transplant.

What has been done to Mr. Cupid is both morally and legally reprehensible. It is against the law to fire a person because of a disability and it is disgustingly cruel to do as well. It is high time that Sysco treats its workers fairly and it is time that Sysco gives its workers what it promised. Give Martin Cupid his job back, Mr. DeLaney, and while you’re at it, pay for his kidney transplant like you said he would the day he signed his contract.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kolin Toney via flickr

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