Former E! Talent Executive Claims She Was Fired Because of Cancer Diagnosis
Asenior vice president of talent and casting for E! Entertainment Television claims that she was fired from her job because of her appearance while she recovered from treatment for breast cancer. Blythe Asher filed a lawsuit against E! and NBCUniversal on Thursday, citing age and disability discrimination and wrongful termination, among other claims. In her suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, she contends that that she received accolades for her work, along with promotions and salary increases, until she was recovering from cancer treatments.
She contends that as she was recovering and was showing the physical side effects of her treatment, she heard comments from management about her sickly appearance. In December of 2015, the lawsuit states, E! executive Jeff Olde “suggested that she wear a poncho to cover her arm.” She had been suffering complications from her treatments and was diagnosed with lymphedema in her arm. “Asher was shocked, offended, and embarrassed by the insensitive comment,” according to the lawsuit.
During her recovery, she continued to perform her duties, including public appearances, executive meetings, and meetings with celebrities. In 2016, Olde gave her a low performance rating on her annual review. “Olde’s poor evaluation was a significant change from Asher’s (precancer) history of exceptional reviews,” according to the suit. “The basis for the lowered review was that “the environment is changing.’” Her employment was terminated on Feb. 9, with the cause being a “business decision” because of corporate restructuring, the suit claims. But she was replaced temporarily by a “younger, less experienced, physically attractive, and cancer-free individual.” Then, her suit claims, additional positions were created and her duties were given to those employees.
“She was released as a result of the physical effects of her ongoing battle with breast cancer,” her suit states. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages. A spokeswoman for E! said that they do not comment on personnel matters.