Can an employer discriminate against you if you have cancer?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2021 | Employment Law

If you are diagnosed with cancer, it can be an upsetting, devastating moment in your life. In the United States, millions of new cancer cases happen each year. Since this diagnosis is so common, it’s hard to believe that employers would treat their employees differently after a diagnosis. Unfortunately, some do begin to discriminate, which is illegal.

Whether you work for a large or small company, it is unfair for the organization to treat you differently because of a medical diagnosis. You have the right to maintain your job as long as you can complete it how you always have. You should not face discrimination due to a cancer diagnosis or the potential for the diagnosis to cause illness or missed days from work.

Federal and state laws protect your interests

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against you because of your medical condition. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Acts provide protections for workers who have to take time off from work to seek medical treatment or who need reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

Living with a health condition is already difficult, but with these laws, you can ask for accommodations to make your job easier, such as being able to sit down more regularly or to take breaks more often. You may also be able to take unpaid leave from the job (while your job remains protected) for up to 12 months through the FMLA.

What should you do if your employer is discriminating against you?

If your employer fails to promote you, offer reasonable accommodations or takes other actions against you due to your medical condition, then you may be in a position to make a claim against them.

If the employer violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, then you may want to reach out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to learn more about making a claim and having that claim investigated. If your employer refuses to give you unpaid, job-protected leave, you may also be able to hold them accountable for failing to offer you the federal protections that you should be afforded.