Former cancer patient gets green light for job after being rejected

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Madrid Metro cited 'medical reasons' for denying Rosa Gómez a position on staff.

17 January 2008

MADRID - "I'm over the moon, I don't know if I can sleep." Rosa Gómez, 43, married and with a teenage daughter, is laughing on the telephone. She speaks rapidly, repeating over and over an enthusiastic "thanks," saying she is "floating on air." On Monday, this woman, who has beaten breast cancer, received the good news she has been fighting for: nobody will stop her from getting a job as a ticket vendor for Madrid Metro.

In 2007 this public company twice rejected her job application, after a medical examination revealed that she has had a mastectomy. Her case appeared in the media last week, and on Monday the head of the regional Transport Department, Manuel Lamela, ordered her readmission to the application process.

Gómez said she was "happy" with the rectification. "I knew they had to decide in my favour, but not so soon." She did not care to say any more about the company, which rejected her in February and November of 2007. "I can only say thanks to everyone," she says. She still has to face one last eliminatory test before becoming a ticket-seller, having already passed the technical checks.

A company regulation document called the profesionómetro mentions breast cancer as a disease "capable of compromising professional activity." Although no time limit is mentioned, Gómez - who had the illness two years ago - was told that they could not hire her until five years had gone by. A company spokesman says this is an "internationally recognised" time limit. Manuela Lamela claims that this document is the result of negotiation with the labour union, but union sources deny this. "It is a unilateral imposition by the company," says Ignacio Arribas of the union CC OO. "There was no negotiation."

On Monday Manuel Lamela sent a letter to the head of Madrid's Metro, Ramón Aguirre, requesting the complete file on Gómez and her address, to apologise "for this regrettable personal situation that Metro has imposed on her."

In his letter Lamela also called for the elimination of the regulation that leaves room for cases like that of Gómez "as soon as possible."

"I'm very glad of that, if it means nobody else is going to go through what I went through," she says.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / PILAR ÁLVAREZ 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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