Woman: Employer fired me after cancer diagnosis

May 7, 2012 8:28:22 PM PDT
A Houston woman says the reason she lost her job was because she got breast cancer. Now she's suing to protect her rights.

The woman used to work at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and thought her boss would stand by her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. So when she was fired it was a total surprise.

Five months after getting hired at the Crowne Plaza Hotel as the conference meetings director, Janet Hustus received devastating news from her doctor.

"When you're told you have cancer, it's very scary," Hustus said.

Hustus went to her general manager, Jerry Mathers, about her treatment and surgery schedule. She missed about eight weeks, and four days after returning, she was fired.

"I was devastated, I didn't know what I was going to do because I had reconstruction surgery that I had to do. I had follow up visits that I had to do. And I didn't know how I was going to pay for it," Hustus said.

Hustus has now filed a lawsuit against Crowne Plaza. Her attorney contends this is a case of employment discrimination.

"Our position is that they terminated for her disability or perceived disability. She had cancer, had subsequent surgery," said Hustus' attorney.

The attorney for the Crowne Plaza Hotel sent us this statement:

"My client just received the lawsuit today and will take a serious look at all of the allegations. I understand that Ms. Hustus worked in a sales-related position and was fired for reasons unrelated to any illness or disability."

"That's the first I've heard of it. I've never heard anything about my job performance, ever," Hustus said.

Legal analyst Geoff Berg says the burden of proof falls on the victims in employment discrimination cases.

"You're going to have to get the employee's file from the employer and you have to look through it and you're going to have to see whether there are any complaints in there, whether there are any reprimands, whether there is any record establishing at the time they claim it happened, that this person had performance issues," Berg said.

Hustus says she feels she had no choice but to take action.

"It's just wrong morally. What they did was wrong," she said.

Hustus is cancer free and has found a new job.

She is seeking financial damages for medical bills she was left with after losing her insurance.


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