Quick Hit: Fired for being high risk for breast cancer?

Robin Marty has a post up at Care 2 about Pamela Fink, who believes she was fired for testing positive for a gene that is associated with a high risk of breast cancer:

Fink claims the dramatic shift in her standing at MXenergy spurs from her revelation that she had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which can increase one’s risk for breast cancer. Fink said she told her employers about her genetic testing in August — shortly after her positive performance review and about two months before she had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. When she returned from medical leave, that’s when her responsibilities began slipping away and the assessment of her work went from glowing to negative.

Read the rest here.

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5 Comments

  1. TiernaFeminista
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have access to the links you posted. Sorry I can’t read more. Please delete my comment if it is off topic.
    GINA: Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act. Employees can file with the EEOC if they are discriminated against because of genetic information.
    More info here: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm

  2. TiernaFeminista
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Just a quick quote:
    An employer may never use genetic information to make an employment decision because genetic information doesn’t tell the employer anything about someone’s current ability to work.

  3. MLEmac28
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m confused. She had a double mastectomy in order to prevent breast cancer on the company’s insurance. From now on her insurance costs would probably be the same as anybody else’s, so why would she be fired? Is a double mastectomy not 100% effective? Is she still at risk, making the company fear that she’ll drive the cost of insurance up more for cancer treatment?
    I guess its possible that just because she had the risk, and subsequent operation, her insurance premiums go up, and the company would have to pick up the cost. If that’s the case, then the insurance company would be partially to blame as well.

  4. Ronijn
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Hm… I wonder if she was fired because of the ‘gene’ or because she doesn’t have breasts anymore. What I mean is, the article doesn’t seem to state if she’s had reconstructive surgery, wears prosthetic breasts or if she now has a flat chest and her mastectomy is ‘visible’. I was thinking about this recently – that ‘save the tatas’ campaigns seem to be about preserving breasts and not the health of the woman. It seems to be fine to get a mastectomy as long as you ‘cover it up’ and look conventionally feminine in public (i.e. two breasts). So I wonder about that part and if she’s experiencing similar discrimination that trans or androgynous people who do not ‘pass’ experience.

  5. R. Dave
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    It’s also worth considering the possibility that the quality of her work suffered after she returned from a long medical leave that may well have left her physically weak and/or emotionally traumatized.

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