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A development and casting executive says E! News fired her after her breast cancer treatment caused a dip in her performance, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Blythe Asher is suing E!, and the NBCUniversal family, for discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract and wrongful termination.
Asher says she worked her way up within the company, which she joined in 2009, and was the senior vice president of talent development and casting when she was terminated in February. According to the suit, her employer capitalized on her relationship with celebrities including Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.
Asher was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. After briefly recovering due to remission, she suffered a complication of her treatment and was diagnosed with lymphedema, which caused significant swelling in her arm.
“Despite her pain and discomfort and despite comments from management regarding her sickly appearance, Asher persevered and continued to perform her job duties, which included public appearances, executive meetings, and meetings with celebrities,” writes attorney Carney Shegerian in the complaint.
Asher claims an E! executive suggested she wear a poncho to cover her arm shortly before she received a low performance rating in her annual review.
Asher believes her appearance was “paramount to her employment” and the lymphedema is the reason she was terminated, according to the complaint, especially since she was replaced with a “younger, less experienced, physically attractive, and cancer-free individual.”
An E! spokesperson responded, saying “We don’t comment on personnel matters.”
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