A federal law that most people have heard of, but don't usually think has anything to do with a disease like cancer is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, the ADA prohibits all types of discrimination based on:
From July 1992 to July 1994, the act covered employers with 25 or more employees. After July 1994, ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees. If you have cancer, this law covers you if: 1) you choose to disclose you diagnosis to your supervisor, and 2) require reasonable workplace accommodations.
In 2008 the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law. The amendments broaden the numbers of those who are eligible for protection by extending and clarifying the conditions covered. A disability, as originally defined by the ADA, is a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits” a major life activity. The ADAAA, however, amends the ADA by giving a broader definition of “major life activity” that includes, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, breathing and thinking.
Importantly, “major life activity” now also includes “major bodily functions,” such as immune system functioning, normal cell growth, and endocrine and reproductive functions. Additionally, an individual with a disability is not deprived of the right to a reasonable accommodation merely because his or her condition is controlled by “mitigating measures” (something that takes away the symptoms/relieves the obvious problem), such as medications or a prosthetic device, or because the condition is in remission, or because it only arises occasionally.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which oversees the enforcement of the ADA, publishes “The ADA: Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability” and many other ADA-related documents in the Publications section of their website. Visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/ada18.cfm.
These are simply a few of the protections that the law provides. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Justice's ADA home page at http://www.ada.gov and The EEOC’s page on the ADAAA at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm.
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) gives you the right to take time off due to illness or caring for an ill dependent without losing your job. This law:
To qualify for FMLA, an employee must have worked for his or her employer for at least 12 months, including at least 1,250 hours during the most recent 12 months. The law applies to workers at all government agencies and schools nationwide, as well as private companies with 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
Like the ADA, the Federal Rehabilitation Act, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because they have cancer. This act however, applies only to employees of the federal government, as well as private and public employers who receive public funds.
For more information on The Federal Rehabilitation Act, contact the Access Unit, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice. Your Rights Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (pdf)
There also may be regulations specific to your state or municipality that deal with work place discrimination. To find out more information, contact your state attorney general's office.
Nothing in this document is intended to provide legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matter. Cancer and Careers recommends seeking professional legal counsel for any questions about a specific situation.
The above content was excerpted from Cancer and Careers. This material is designed to provide general information on the topics presented. It is provided with the understanding that Cancer and Careers is not engaged in rendering any legal or professional services by its publication or distribution. Although this material was reviewed by a professional, it should not be used as a substitute for professional services. Resources and referrals are provided solely for information and convenience.
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