When you think of discrimination lawsuits, you usually think of entry-level to mid-level management employees as the ones that could possibly be discriminated against. However, that’s not always the case.
Ex-CEO Kathleen Mason filed a discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on the basis of her disability, according to the Dallas Business Journal. The suit claims that Mason was given a $500,000 bonus and an amended employment contract a few months before the company fired her.
An employer cannot discriminate against an employee or prospective employee on the basis of a physical or mental disability. This applies to employers that have more than 15 employees who work more than 20 hours a week.
To be protected by the law, you typically must have a disability. A disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is defined as a a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Major life activities are things like walking, speaking, seeing, hearing, and breathing. You can also be protected if your employer believes that you are disabled, even if you are not.
Here, it seems like there is one major question that will determine whether the suit will go forward. That question is whether having the early stages of breast cancer is a disability under the ADA. Cancer certainly would be a reason to take medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), but at this stage it will be necessary to prove that it limits major life activities.
There is certainly an argument to be made that having cancer would be perceived by the employer as being a disability, but that can’t be determined until the lawsuit moves forward and more evidence is unearthed.
Cancer is a horrible diagnosis and hopefully Kathleen Mason will be lucky in her treatment, but we will have to wait and see what happens with her disability discrimination lawsuit against Tuesday Morning.
- Looking for a Houston Employment Attorney? (FindLaw)
- Grandma Fired For Cancer; What Are Her Damages? (FindLaw’s Houston Employment Law Blog)
- Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (EEOC)