Irrespective of the merits or legitimacy of the performance issue, is there an employer who has read our blog who cannot critique this action by the company?
Kathleen Mason told her company, Tuesday Morning Corp. (which sells closeout housewares and home décor in 850 stores around the US), of which she was president and CEO, that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer “so they wouldn’t be alarmed if she began losing her hair or growing gaunt as a result of treatment.”
She was fired a few months later for alleged performance reasons, even though she was the 2010 Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas Businesswoman of the Year, and even though her board of directors had approved a $50,000 salary raise in 2011, along with stock options. She just sued alleging disability discrimination.
The Huffington Post reports that her attorney claims that “the board’s attitude toward her began to change soon after [she revealed her condition], with members contacting her subordinates directly. At one point when Mason was wearing a wig … one board member made a sarcastic comment about how nice her hair looked.”
Her complaint states that “When you put the board’s actions into chronological context, the motivating factor for the board’s decision to fire her was the fact that it had concern about her future performance because it regarded Kathleen as having a disability (cancer). … It’s clear that Tuesday Morning’s board overreacted when it learned of Kathleen’s cancer and regarded her as being disabled and wrongfully fired her.”
When it comes to disclosure of a disability, is chronology destiny?