’I was kind of just in shock’: Mother of local boy battling cancer taking legal action after being fired
Mother claims she was fired for taking care of her son
ROANOKE, Va. – “I was kind of just in shock. I couldn’t really process what he was saying. I couldn’t fathom that he would literally be sitting in the hospital lobby while my son was 11 floors up on death’s doorstep,” Becky Claussen said.
That was Claussen’s reaction when her boss flew from the company office in Salt Lake City, Utah, to fire her in the Roanoke hospital where her son, Cameron, was undergoing treatment for Leukemia.
Cameron took his mother’s firing hard.
“It felt like having something on your foot, or on your body, making you not be able to get up," Cameron said.
When asked what he would like to say to his mother’s boss, he said there’s a lot he’d like to say, but didn’t get specific.
“He said, 'Mommy, I’m sorry I got cancer because it made you lose your job," his mother said. "Cameron knows to this date that is not his fault. He is not the reason these people decided to come to the hospital and be, in my opinion, heartless.”
We first told you about Cameron earlier this year when the community rallied around him after his diagnosis.
His mother claims she was fired because the company decided she couldn’t do her job because she was spending so much time caring for her son.
Her attorney, Tommy Strelka, plans to file a discrimination lawsuit early next year.
“The claim erupts when the decision has already been made without any sort of demonstration of work performance. That’s what happened here," Strelka explained.
After she used up her paid time off, he said, she went right back to work but was stripped of her title and duty.
“The CEO wrote in an e-mail...‘You and I both know you can’t do this job,’” Strelka said.
On Friday, 10 News called the CEO, but he didn’t answer.
He sent 10 News a statement instead, saying the company is saddened by the situation and Claussen’s claim is, quote, categorically untrue.
Full company statement:
“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.”
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