Kathleen Mason, Ex-Tuesday Morning CEO, Claims Company Fired Her After Finding Out She Had Cancer

08/03/2012 01:24 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2012

In June, Kathleen Mason lost her job as the CEO of Tuesday Morning, a home-furnishings chain. Now, she's claiming it's because her bosses found out she had breast cancer.

Mason was ousted on June 5, shortly after the investment firm Becker Drapkin Management -- which owns 5 percent of Tuesday Morning's common stock -- wrote to Tuesday Morning's board of directors, criticizing Mason's performance as chief executive.

"Ms. Mason has led an extraordinary destruction of shareholder value in stark contrast to the success of Tuesday Morning's peer group," the letter read in part.

Mason, who had been CEO since 2000, says there were other motives at work.

In a statement released Friday, a lawyer for Mason claimed that the board decided to fire Mason after learning she was getting treated for breast cancer, according to The Wall Street Journal. Mason has filed discrimination charges against her former company.

Mason's exit package includes a 10-year consultancy clause followed by an 18-month non-compete requirement, the WSJ reports, which Mason's attorney, Rogge Dunn, cited as evidence that the company wanted Mason gone for reasons not related to her performance.

"The board made it clear she was not being fired 'for cause' and the company wanted to retain her expertise for another 11 years," said Dunn, according to a press release issued by the office of his law firm. "One has to question why she was removed from her job."

If Mason's illness did indeed play a role in her dismissal, it would hardly be the first time that's happened. Last year, a California civil rights agency found that an electrical manufacturing company had unjustly dismissed a worker because he'd had to spend time recovering from cancer surgery.

And a few months before that, a Massachusetts man lost his job after letting his employer know his wife had been diagnosed with cancer and would need him by her side for tests. The man, Carl Sorabella, told reporters that he'd offered to work nights and weekends to make up the missed hours, but was shown the door instead.

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