CT Woman Claims She Was Fired over Genetics

May 3, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A woman from Stamford, Connecticut, has filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming she was fired because she tested positive for a breast cancer gene.

Pamela K. Fink claims there was a dramatic shift in her standing at MXenergy after she told her employers she had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which can increase one’s risk for breast cancer, the Stamford Advocate reports. Fink opted to have a double mastectomy because of the test results and because she has two sisters who are breast cancer survivors (and who both tested positive for the breast cancer gene).   

Fink said that before her revelation she received a glowing performance review, during which she was praised for her strong work ethic, positive attitude and other attributes. However, when she returned from medical leave, many of her responsibilities were shifted to someone else, and her employers began criticizing her work.  

According to the news report, in January, she received a scathing performance review, and on March 25, her employment was terminated and she was told her position had been eliminated.  

Company spokesman Todd Miller said MXenergy “emphatically and categorically” denies the allegations, but has a policy not to discuss personnel matters and will not comment further, the news report said.  

Among other things, the complaint alleges that her termination violates the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Under the law, which went into effect in November, employers may not use someone’s genetic background in hiring, firing or promotions (see Genetic Info Nondiscrimination Bill Signed into Law).