Academy of Motion Pictures Sued for Allegedly Firing Cancer Victim
A former employee has filed a lawsuit against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences claiming he was fired while receiving treatment for Stage IV cancer, and that his supervisors refused to comply with his doctors’ instructions and requests for him to work from home.
The plaintiff, former human resources manager Rodolfo Davila, began working for the Academy in November 2012 and received excellent performance reviews up until May 2015, when a large tumor was discovered on his heart and lungs, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday.
He proceeded to have seven rounds of chemotherapy treatment, received a stent implant, spent 45 days in quarantine and underwent heart surgery. Davila was then given three months to live and a 10 percent chance of survival. However, he survived and is now in remission.
The suit states that Davila was then allowed to work from home or the hospital from May to July 2015, totaling 40-50 hours a week. Following disability leave, he returned to work in March 2016, at which time he was given a pay increase and a manager title, splitting his time between working from home — per his doctor’s requests — and in the office.
However, in April 2016, Lisa Kaye became the new managing director of human resources, and she allegedly stated that Davila’s doctor note was “too vague” in saying he couldn’t work more than 40 hours a week or 10 hours a day and needed flexibility to work from home.
“What does this mean that you’re allowed to work from home when needed? If you don’t come into the office, you’re a consultant or an independent contractor, that’s not an employee,” she allegedly asked, before suggesting that he go on disability.
The lawsuit states that from June 2016 onward, he was pressured to leave the Academy, and then informed that he would have to go on part-time disability leave. Davila stated that he was later barred from the company network and from entering the building.
On June 21, 2016, he received an email titled “Separation Agreement,” stating that his employment would be terminated on July 1.
According to the lawsuit, Davila went on to suffer shortness of breath, hyperventilation, dizziness and high blood pressure — from a heart attack he believes was caused by the stress of his firing.
Davila is now employed at Full Screen Media. His cancer is in remission.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
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