Woman in Va. says her employer fired her over her son’s cancer

(KSTU/WSLS/CNN) - A single mom claims she lost her job because her son got cancer, something her former employer denies.

"To watch him ask 'Mommy, do I have cancer? Am I going to survive?'" Becky Claussen said. "Those were some of the hardest moments of my entire life."

Claussen's son Cameron started chemotherapy two days after he was diagnosed with leukemia in April.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare to find out that your child has cancer, and the type of cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, is somewhat rare in children," she said.

Cameron has undergone five rounds of chemotherapy. His mother said his cancer is now in remission.

Claussen says she worked beside her son in his hospital bed in Virginia. She`s worked remotely for a Salt Lake City company called The Summit Group for 13 years.

Claussen took paid time off to care for Cameron.

When she got back to work, her job assignment changed. She received an email saying, "I think we both know you can`t perform the account manager position adequately under the new circumstances."

In July, her boss called her saying it was urgent they meet.

"I went down to the hospital lobby and I met with him, and that's where he told me they were ending the business relationship," Claussen said.

Claussen says he flew from Utah to Virginia to fire her.

"I was fired in the hospital lobby while he was upstairs fighting for his life," she said. "And he said, 'Mom, I'm sorry that I got cancer because it made you lose your job.'"

A single mom with four kids, Claussen found herself fighting to care for them while Cameron fought for his life.

"You have quite the pessimistic heart to do something like this to someone else," said Tommy Strelka, Claussen's attorney.

Claussen's attorney says if the claims are found true, Summit Group violated multiple laws.

"Others need to know that this is not right," Strelka said. "Others need to know that employers cannot treat you this way and employers need to know that they can`t treat employees this way."

Summit Group put out a statement, saying, "We are saddened about this situation. The allegation that we let someone go because of a family health situation is categorically untrue."

They also say Claussen violated company policies before Cameron was sick, and she was fired because of performance job-related issues.

"It infuriated me, because this is not his fault," the mother said.

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