Woman claims she was fired because she had cancer

Vivienne Parra files lawsuit against ex-employer

SAN DIEGO - A California woman is suing, claiming she was fired from her job because she had cancer.

In 2006, Vivienne Parra was living in Virginia, where she worked at Potomac Hospital as an insurance verification specialist.

She was pregnant with her daughter when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with a high-risk pregnancy, she underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

"When you're going through cancer, it's not a game," Parra said. "It's really wanting to survive."

Her battle with cancer forced her to take several months off from work. Parra said her supervisor would often make remarks when she should turn in requests for time off.

"I would get comments such as, 'For a cancer patient, you don't even look that sick,'" Parra said.

Parra said she tried to work as much as possible during her treatment. She planned her return to work in 2009 just as she felt she was winning her battle with cancer.

That's when she got a phone call from the management at the hospital informing her she was no longer employed there.

Parra is now suing her former employer, but it's a little complicated. She worked for Potomac Hospital, which has merged with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical.

Spokeswoman Amy Sandoval said the management Parra worked under isn't there anymore. She said the hospital takes the allegations seriously, but said she can't comment on the lawsuit.    

Parra's lawyer, David Scher, said she's asking for lost wages and payment for emotional distress and loss of reputation.

"Our message is this is not going to fly. It flagrantly violates the law," said Scher.

Whatever happens with her lawsuit, Parra said she feels like she's started a new and healthier chapter in her life in San Diego.

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