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Ex-CEO Claims She Was Fired For Being ‘Disabled’ After Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

By Rebecca Leber  

"Ex-CEO Claims She Was Fired For Being ‘Disabled’ After Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer"

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Kathleen Mason, ex-CEO of Tuesday Morning (Credit: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

Shortly after informing the board of directors of her breast cancer, former CEO of Tuesday Morning was ousted as the head of the furniture retail company last June. Kathleen Mason, who served as CEO for 12 years, has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming she was discriminated against.

The Wall Street Journal reports this may be an unprecedented lawsuit among cases over alleged discrimination:

While employee suits over alleged discrimination are common, it is rare for one to come from a former CEO. Ms. Mason’s lawsuit, filed on Thursday in county court in Dallas, claims the board wrongfully dismissed her because “it regarded her as being disabled” after she informed some fellow directors about her diagnosis.

Mason, 64 years old, said that she informed board members of her cancer in March and she was asked to resign in mid-May. The board eventually released a letter criticizing Mason hours before she was fired that read, “[she] led an extraordinary destruction of shareholder value.” The company denies her allegations, noting the company’s stock fell nearly 60 percent before she was fired.

Though the law is very clear that gender and health discrimination is illegal, women in the workplace still regularly face repercussions over getting pregnant, taking birth control, or contracting diseases that affect predominantly women. And based on the strong reactions to Angelina Jolie’s recent news that she had a preventative double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer, it’s clear that the stigma over health issues that affect a woman’s anatomy still exists.

It is unclear whether Mason experienced her own discrimination, but the issue is hardly a women-only issue. Examples abound where employees have lost their jobs over perceived weakness after they developed cancer or recovered from surgery.

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