April 30, 2010 — -- A Connecticut woman claims she was fired despite years of glowing reports by her employer after she told them she had tested positive for the breast cancer gene and would undergo a double mastecomy as a preventative measure.
"I was a great employee and I did really great work," said Pamela Fink, 39. "The only thing that changed from the time that I had a great review to when I didn't was my two surgeries."
Fink has filed complaints at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities as well as the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that she was fired from the Stamford, Conn., company MXenergy because of her genetic testing results.
She is claiming that by doing so, her employer, MXenergy, a natural gas and electricity provider, violated the Genetic Information Nondiscriminaton Act as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Fink also says that her termination was in violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which was enacted in November 2009 and prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information by employers or health insurers.
Fink's doctor told her she had an "80 percent" chance of getting breast cancer after determining she was a carrier of the breast cancer gene, also known as BRCA2, so Fink elected to get a preventative double mastectomy.
"Basically I was a ticking time bomb," said Fink. "It wasn't if, it was when I was going to get cancer."
Fink underwent the double mastectomy on Oct. 9, 2009, taking two weeks of paid medical leave. On Jan. 22, 2010, Fink had reconstructive surgery. According to Fink, the day before her second surgery she received a review that was "negative and scathing."
On March 25, she was fired.
Messages left for MXenergy were not immediately returned, but company spokesman Todd Miller told The Associated Press that "MXenergy 'emphatically and categorically' denies the allegations, but has a policy not to discuss personnel matters and will not comment further."
In the complaint, Fink said that MXenergy said they fired her because her "position was terminated." But Fink claims that another woman was brought on to do her job and was later promoted as her superior while she was out on medical leave.
Fink Says Poor Reviews Happened Only After She Discovered She Had the Breast Cancer Gene
"It has been horrible," Fink said of the ordeal. Fink, who has a husband and two small children, had been the primary breadwinner for her family and had been the insurance provider.
MXenergy had employed Fink as the director of public relations and marketing communications since January 2006, according to the complaint obtained by ABCNews.com.
In Fink's 2009 performance review, her employers told her that she was doing an "exemplary job" and has been a "relentless crusader" for the brand.
During an August 2009 meeting about her review Fink said that her supervisor Gina Goldberg told her "that if she was to lay off everyone in the Marketing Department except one employee. I would be the one employee she kept."
Fink's attorney, Gary Phelan, said that his client is hoping for reinstatement in her position at MXenergy and punitive and emotional distress damages.
Janice Goodman, a labor lawyer in New York City who is not associated with Fink's case, said that people are fired because of disabilities or issues like these "more than we'd like them to be."
Fink Hopes Others Don't Hesitate to Get Tested In Fear Of Losing Their Jobs
With two sisters who are breast cancer survivors, Fink says that she hopes her case allows others to realize how important early detection is.
"The truth of the matter, nobody needs to die from the disease anymore. We have really good detection and really good ways to get people better," said Fink. "The bigger picture is that the technology and science is just incredible in what it can determine."
"If people are afraid to even have the genetic testing then how many lives are we going to lose because people just don't want to rock the boat?"