Leukemia Patient Sues Employer for Disability Discrimination, Retaliation, Wrongful Termination

A California public educational entity is being sued by its former superintendent for failing to renew her contract claiming it did so, not because of her poor performance, but because she required hospitalization and treatment for her leukemia.

Kathy Frazier is 58 years old and has been diagnosed with leukemia, according to the complaint. She was hired by the Southeast Regional Occupational Program (SROP) in August 2014 as its superintendent. Pursuant to her contract, her employment would be extended for two years if she received a satisfactory evaluation from SROP’s board of educators, the complaint states.

In the complaint, Frazier claims she had “an excellent relationship with the [b]oard and was very well liked by the community and the students.” The board held a meeting on April 15, 2015 to discuss Frazier’s evaluation and contract extension. Afterwards, the board’s president, Maynard Law, told her she had “nothing to worry about.”

On April 27, 2015, Frazier told the board about her leukemia diagnosis and need for impending hospitalization. She claims she took extraordinary efforts to protect the program during her absence, including, but not limited to, convincing the retired former superintendent to return on a part-time basis, offering to work remotely from the hospital and her home, and concluding some teaching assignments during her hospital stay.

Frazier claims that following the April 15 meeting all members of the board gave her high evaluation scores of fours and fives. But that after disclosing her leukemia diagnosis, those scores were lowered to twos and threes. According to the lawsuit, as a result, Frazier’s contract was only extended for one year, not the two she had expected based on high performance scores.

Frazier’s hospitalization began on May 25, 2015 and her doctors expected her to be out of work until January 4, 2016; that date was later extended to March 1, 2016, according to the complaint. In the complaint Frazier claims that, following her release from the hospital but before returning to work, she made several attempts to contact the board to maintain a working relationship but that she was shunned and ignored in an attempt to isolate her.

Frazier claims she was terminated on February 26, 2016 and that SROP would provide her with a “lump sum payment equal to her compensation and benefits through June 30, 2016,” the complaint states.

Frazier sues for breach of contract, adverse employment actions because of her disability, harassment because of her need to take medical leave, failure to accommodate and wrongful termination. She is represented by Brad Kane of Los Angeles who filed the case in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Image Source: Baptist Health