Broadway big-wig Matthew Lombardo is seeking $2 million in damages in a federal lawsuit, charging that Valerie Harper and husband Tony Cacciotti never told him she was ill with cancer before he signed her to perform in his play “Looper.”
Harper, 74, appeared in the play on Broadway, and earned a Tony Nomination, but had to drop out of the national tour last year after the cancer spread to her brain.
Lombardo claims the show lost at least $500,000 because Harper left on short notice, leaving the show’s producers scrambling to find a replacement, according to Celebrity Health & Fitness, a Web site that tracks celebrity health issues.
Lombardo and the show’s other producers are asking to recoup the loss and an additional $1.5 million in damages, because they claim Harper misled them.
But the case, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, appears to be on flimsy ground.
Prospective employees are under no legal obligation to disclose an illness while applying for a job, according to legal references.
What’s more, it’s illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant based on a medical condition, unless the condition makes it impossible for the applicant to perform the work.
In addition, a prospective employee is under no obligation to disclose an illness or handicap even if it may require special accommodations.
An employer can ask a job applicant if they will need special accommodations, but it is illegal to ask questions that may elicit information about a possible disability, illness, or pregnancy, according to legal sources.
Harper is suing the production to be paid for the remainder of her contract.
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