In 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued two employers for terminating a title clerk working at their automobile dealership allegedly over fears that she might have cancer.
According to the lawsuit, the employee had missed several days of work due to a sudden illness and then informed management that she had been hospitalized and was undergoing testing for cancer. The employers promptly fired the employee a day before her anticipated return, despite a medical release allowing her to work. Her termination letter advised her to “focus on her health,” and confirmed that her termination was not performance-related but rather a “corporate decision.”
The employers’ actions, if true, would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the employee had cancer, and that diagnosis motivated the employer to separate the employee from her company, that would violate the ADA — absent any prior attempt to accommodate the employee’s disability.
Similarly, the EEOC’s press release notes that “federal law prohibits employers from terminating individuals purely out of fear that those individuals may have a disability.” This would fall under the regarded-as prong of the ADA.
The EEOC underscored that “[t]his employee should never have been terminated. Her hospitalization and potential cancer diagnosis, not her performance, sealed her fate with this company.”
So, the defendants settled for $150,000.
Yes, by 150,000 “reasons,” I meant dollars. But I’m guessing you already figured that out.