A Mary Kay sales director is terminated while being treated for cancer and files a lawsuit against the company.
The full story can be found at law.com. The verdict was eventually overturned, but here is a summary of what happened.
Claudine Woolf was a sales director with Mary Kay who was diagnosed with breast cancer during a 1997 pregnancy. She was a “Fabulous 50’s Director” and drove a Grand Am. She says she worked Mary Kay full-time.
Claudine was treated for the cancer, and during that time she did not meet her sales director quotas or car quotas. In September of 1997, she contacted Mary Kay to ask for an exception to the quotas. The company declined, she lost her directorship, and the car was taken from her.
She filed an employment discrimination suit against Mary Kay. (Her attorney was Angela Alioto.) Claudine and her attorney claimed that she was wrongly fired because of her medical disability.
Mary Kay defended its position that Claudine was an independent contractor, and not subject to rules and benefits that might apply to employees.
The jury determined that she was an employee of Mary Kay, and that the company “acted with oppression or malice” by not accommodating her and her illness. The jury returned a verdict against Mary Kay with $11.2 million in damages. $10 million of that was for punitive damages.