New York City sought to fire a man for abandoning his job, but he had died. Reuters

New York City attempted to fire an employee for skipping work for 18 months only to discover he had died, the The Associated Press reported. The city's Human Resources Administration accused Geoffrey Toliver of abandoning his job in November 2013.

Toliver had worked as a Medicaid-eligibility specialist. Officials for the Human Resources Administration said after phone calls and letters to Toliver went unanswered for more than a year, they took steps to remove him from his $38,000 a year job, the New York Post reported. An administrative law judge recommended last month that Toliver be fired, saying he did not appear for his July 1 hearing.

Toliver could not have attended the hearing; he had died of cancer on Dec. 8 at the age of 65. His death was reported in an online obituary. A Human Resources Administration spokesman said Toliver was not paid when he was not working, but that his job was left open in case he recovered.

“Some people he worked with were very supportive, so how did HRA the organization not know?” said Ted Willbright, who had considered Toliver as a brother, the New York Post reported. “He’s dead, and they’re saying he abandoned his job. He didn’t abandon his job, his job abandoned him. He was a good man. Truly, truly a good man.”

Family members said they were surprised to hear claims from city officials that they had not been in touch with Toliver, and Toliver’s brother Anthony said his understanding was Toliver’s family had spoken directly to his supervisor and had informed his employer of his death.

A spokesman for the Human Resources Administration said the agency is now aware of his “unfortunate death” and that it will not be taking further action.

His online obituary said that Toliver was born in Harlem and he was liked by colleagues.