Breast Cancer Survivor Loses Chick-fil-A Job Over Double Mastectomy

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As if battling breast cancer weren't stressful enough, Daphne Richards is now filing a discrimination case against her employer. The newly divorced mother of two reportedly uprooted her life in Indiana to take a job with fast food chain Chick-fil-A in Colorado. She was drawn to their values and healthcare coverage.

Richards started late last year as a shift manager, but in May, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. She needed a bilateral mastectomy and weeks to recover.

The restaurant's attorney said that even though Richards didn't qualify for continuing benefits during her work hiatus under the Family Medical Leave Act, the company paid for her health insurance coverage during her medical leave. It was when she came back last week that her trouble began ...


Richards told a local Denver ABC affiliate that her manager said, "I no longer have a full-time management position for you, and you will no longer be receiving healthcare benefits after September." Her hours were also cut from 40-plus a week to 10 to 15 and her wage went from $14 to $10 an hour. 

Initially, Richards says she was told the business was "restructuring." Later, the restaurant's lawyer said the store owner "was concerned about the effect of a full-time workload after traumatic surgery."

Chick-fil-A says Richards was demoted because of issues with performance, which included two write-ups, before her leave.

She claims there were no such write-ups.

The fact is, in the state of Colorado, employers can't legally fire you based on a disability, which includes breast cancer. But someone in Richards' position could try to prove there was a motivation for firing or demoting her. It is possible she may also have been a victim of "constructive discharge," in which an employer makes things so difficult, an employee is compelled to resign against her will.

Whether you are battling breast cancer or another debilitating illness, you are entitled to certain rights. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives employees of companies with 50 people or more up to 12 weeks unpaid leave with benefits.

Plus, employees who are worried they're being discriminated against due to a health issue are also protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), as long as the employer is aware of the health condition.

That said, Richards has every right to fight. Of course, it's truly disheartening that on top of everything else she's contending with in her life, Richards has to battle for her job. (She most recently filed a discrimination charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.)

But good for her for stepping up to the plate and defending herself. No one should ever have to feel as though their health condition jeopardized their employment. 

Check out for more info on fighting discrimination based on health status in the workplace.

What do you make of what happened to Richards? Have you ever had to fight discrimination like this?


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