Woman claims she was wrongly terminated after breast cancer

Kelly Holleran Oct. 19, 2011, 4:22am


A St. Clair County woman alleges she was wrongly terminated from her job after she developed breast cancer.

Jamie Engler claims she learned of her breast cancer diagnosis on Feb. 24. The following day, Engler informed her employer, defendant Coldwell Banker Brown Realtors, of her illness and asked to come to work early to build up compensable hours, according to the complaint filed Oct. 13 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Soon after Engler's diagnosis, Coldwell Banker began denying her requests and the accommodations she needed to complete breast cancer treatment, the suit states.

For instance, Coldwell Banker allegedly rejected Engler's initial request to build up compensable hours and was denied her requests to have her hours adjusted, to work from home or to work on weekends, the complaint says.

"Jamie Engler expressed her concern about losing her job and that she would work early, late, and weekends to keep her employment," the suit states. "During this time Jamie Engler was informed that her job could not be guaranteed while she recuperated from surgery and that she may be replaced."

On March 16, Engler claims she had a double mastectomy and went on short-term disability because her doctor would not allow her to return to work until four drainage tubes were removed.

Finally, on April 19, Engler was able to return to work, but would need to leave repeatedly for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, according to the complaint.

Throughout May, Engler endured chemotherapy, but reacted harshly to the treatments and had to be hospitalized for a few days. During her stay, Engler continually updated her employer and even provided a report for it, the suit states.

On June 2, Engler informed her boss that she would be able to return to work on June 6. However, she later had a conversation with the company's vice president, who informed her that because of her erratic doctor's appointments, her boss would be able to decide whether or not to continue to employ Engler, the complaint says.

Coldwell Banker terminated Engler on June 3 while Engler remained hospitalized, she claims.

"The conduct, disparities, segregation, criteria, policies, practices and procedures referred to in this complaint on the part of Coldwell Banker Brown constitutes discrimination based on a disability," the suit states.

Because of her termination, Engler lost her employment, wages and benefits, according to the complaint.

She alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act against the defendants.

In her three-count complaint, Engler is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus actual damages for back and front pay, unspecified damages, injunctive relief, punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

She will be represented by Steven C. Giacoletto of Giacoletto Law Office in Collinsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1054.

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