A mother is filing a lawsuit against a Salt Lake City-based company after she claims they fired her once they learned her son had cancer.
Becky Claussen has worked for a Salt Lake City Company called The Summit Group for 13 years.
Working remotely in Virginia, Claussen said things changed after her 10-year-old son Cameron was diagnosed with Leukemia in April, earlier this year.
“To watch him ask ‘Mommy, do I have cancer? Am I going to survive?’ Those were some of the hardest moments of my entire life,” said Claussen.
Cameron was diagnosed 10 days before his tenth birthday and started chemotherapy two days later.
Claussen took paid time off and when she went back to work, she said her job assignment changed and she received an email saying, “I think we both know you can’t perform the account manager position adequately under the new circumstances.”
In July, Claussen said her boss flew from Utah to Virginia to meet up.
“I went down to the hospital lobby and I met with him,” said Claussen. “That’s where he told me they were ending the business relationship.”
In that moment, Claussen said her boss fired her.
Returning to Cameron’s hospital room, Claussen explained what had happened—he then turned to her and said, “I’m sorry I got cancer cause it made you lose your job.”
A single mom with four kids, Claussen found herself fighting to care for them with no insurance while Cameron fought for his life.
The Summit Group violated multiple laws, according to Claussen’s attorney, Thomas “Tommy” Strelka.
“You have quite the pessimistic heart to do this to someone else,” said Strelka. “She was retaliated against for the use of her employee benefits and health insurance she had as part of her employment.”
Strelka said they filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission violations for both the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act
“Others need to know that this is not right,” said Strelka. “Others need to know that employers can’t treat you this way and employers need to know that they can’t treat employees this way.”
The Summit Group put out this statement, “we are saddened about this situation. The allegation that we let someone go because of a family health situation is categorically untrue.”
“We are saddened about this situation. The allegation that we let someone go because of a family health situation is categorically untrue. We have been a small business operating in Utah for nearly 40 years and have countless examples of supporting both our employees and their families in the midst of various life trials. We also took reasonable steps to try to accommodate Becky, by granting all of her requests for time off and her request to be relieved of some of her job duties. We provided a flexible working schedule for her at her request. Becky confirmed to me via email that “you guys did what works for my family.”
Becky also told us that she wanted to find a new job, outside of our organization, that would be less stressful for her. We offered to help her find a new job as well. Unfortunately, Becky’s job performance steadily declined even after all we had done to help her. You will find multiple examples of her violating our company policies well in advance of any illness in her family when our response to the EEOC is filed. Thus, our decision to discharge Becky’s employment was made strictly on performance and job-related issues. After we discharged Becky, we discovered that she had been dishonest with one of our clients in the weeks before her termination. She knowingly caused an image of our advertising to be altered and caused that fraudulent image to be sent to one of our clients. If we had known about such dishonesty while she was employed, it would have led to her immediate discharge for that reason alone. This is only one of the areas of misconduct we have found in our review of her job performance.
We will be filing a thorough and detailed response with the EEOC on or before December 23rd with the full explanation of facts that show that we did not mistreat this employee.”
As for Cameron, after five rounds of chemotherapy, Claussen said his cancer is now in remission.