The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Maxim Healthcare Services for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act after the company fired a 43-year-old mother who was fighting brain cancer and wanted to continue to work as she fought her battle against cancer. The company claims that the 43-year-old woman was no longer able to perform her job and was a safety threat to herself and to others. The 43-year-old mother passed away in August and her case is one of three cases to address changes made under the ADA that identified cancer as a disability.
The woman’s story begins in Minnesota where she originally was a police officer in New Brighton. She was a bodyguard with her police officer husband to Jesse Ventura during his 1998 campaign to be governor. During her time as a police officer, the woman injured herself in a car accident while on the job. The injury lead to her decision to go to nursing school and in 2007 she was hired as a nursing director at Maxim Healthcare Services. Maxim is a large company with 36,000 employees and 360 offices across the United States.
At the close of 2007, the woman was diagnosed with brain cancer. The woman was determined to continue working and did so for one year. At the end of 2008, the woman went on an eight week medical leave. Upon her return in February 2009 the company informed her that a doctor’s clearance note was required for her return. The woman obtained and provided multiple clearance notes from her doctor who said she could handle full time work. She never heard a word from Maxim on when she could return to work until she was fired by the company during a conference call on February 25, 2009.
Source: Star Tribune, “Feds Fight for Fired Cancer Patient,” Lora Pabst, 1/19/11