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Did you lose your job after being diagnosed with cancer?
There are a multitude of distinct diseases broadly categorized as cancer. For every 100,000 people, more than 400 new cancer cases are reported each year. Were you diagnosed with a form of cancer? Did you lose your job after being diagnosed with cancer?Concerns for Workers After Being Diagnosed With Cancer
Receiving a cancer diagnosis at any age will likely come as a shock. The reality of what your doctor has told you will hit you hard. You will be worried, distraught, unsure of what the future holds. Cancer not only affects your physical health but will change the way you think and feel about things. Activities you previously enjoyed may no longer be pleasurable. Uncertainties will abound. What will your diagnosis mean for your job? Will you be able to continue working while undergoing treatment? Can you maintain a fulltime job? How will you support yourself and your family if you cannot work?Remaining in the Workforce After Being Diagnosed With Cancer
Cancer can cause severe pain and fatigue. Cancer treatment can make it difficult or impossible to do some of the things you used to do. Cancer may limit your ability to perform physical and even sedentary work. Some people will have no choice but to leave the workforce. However, for others, a cancer diagnosis does not mean that you cannot work. In fact, continuing to work can be essential to maintaining your financial, mental, and emotional wellbeing.Communicating With Your Employer After Being Diagnosed With Cancer
You Are Not Obligated Under the Law to Tell Your Employer About Your Cancer Diagnosis. However, Communicating With Your Employer About Your Situation is Helpful Because:
- You May Need Time Off From Work for Treatment and Recovery,
- You May Require Flexible Hours Until You Finish Treatment, or
- You May Only Be Able to Work if Your Work Restrictions Are accommodated.
Communicating With Your Employer About Your Situation May Lessen the Likelihood That You Will Lose Your Job After Being Diagnosed With cancer.
If You Feel Comfortable Sharing the Details of Your Situation With Your Employer, You May Want to:
- Tell Your Doctor What the Most Important Functions of Your Job are.
- Ask Your Doctor for a Doctor’s Note Summarizing Your Health Status, Prognosis, and Ability to Work, Including Any Work Restrictions (Physical or Mental Tasks Associated With Your Usual Job Duties You Are Unable to Perform or Have a Reduced Ability to Perform Because of Your Diagnosis.)
- Send Your Employer (Preferably Your Employer’s Human Resources Department) the Doctor’s Note Summarizing Your Health Status, Prognosis, and Ability to work.
- Learn About Your Employer’s Policies Concerning Time Off From Work and disabilities.
- Arrange a Meeting With Your Employer to Explain What You Need From Your Employer to Continue Working. Explain What Adjustments to Your Job You Will Need. Adjustments to Your Job Because of Your Diagnosis Are Called Reasonable Accommodations. Examples of a Reasonable Accommodation Are a Short Leave of Absence for Treatment or Just to Collect Yourself, Time Off to See Medical Providers, or Changes to Your Work Schedule.
- If You Need a Long Period of Time Off From Work, Request a Leave of Absence Under the California Family Rights Act (California Government Code Sections 12945.1, 12945.2, and 19702.3) or as an Accommodation Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (California Government Code Sections 12900 – 12996).
- If You Feel You Are Being Subjected to a Hostile Work Environment, Otherwise Being Discriminated Against, or Are Fearful of Losing Your Job, Contact Your Employer’s Human Resources Department and Use Your Employer’s Policies and Procedures Through a Formal or Informal Process to Address the situation.
- If You Belong to a Union, Contact a Union Representative About Your Situation and Request That They Advocate on Your Behalf.
Having Supportive Management is the Key to Keeping Your Job and Working Without Undue Stress and Aggravation. Open Communication Can Allow for Flexibility on Returning to Work and Taking Time Off From Work.
Being Fired is Particularly Hard on People Who Have Been Diagnosed With Cancer
Despite your best efforts, sometimes the worst happens. Your employer fires you. Losing your job is usually a stressful experience. Losing your job after a cancer diagnosis will be particularly stressful. You may feel betrayed by your employer. You may feel you have lost direction over your life. You depend on your job to pay your bills. Your job is more than just a way of earning a living, it is part of who you are. Work can be a social outlet, giving you structure or purpose. Losing your job may affect the way you see yourself and how others see you. Losing your job may mean losing your health insurance and being left without a way to pay for the costs of medical treatment when you need health insurance most. You may be eligible for continued health coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). However, the cost for COBRA coverage is more than what most people can afford.
If you have been fired after being diagnosed with cancer, don’t blame yourself. Depending on the circumstances of your termination, your employer may have violated the law.
In California, FEHA, as well as the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (42 United States Code section 12101 et seq.) prohibit workplace discrimination against workers who have or had cancer.What to Do if You Are Fired After Being Diagnosed With Cancer
If you lose your job after being diagnosed with cancer, you may:
- File a complaint with the State of California Civil Rights Department. The Civil Rights Department is the state agency in charge of ensuring that employers do not discriminate against workers because they were diagnosed with cancer.
- File a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the federal agency in charge of ensuring that employers do not discriminate against workers because they were diagnosed with cancer.
- Hire an experienced employment attorney. This may be your best option. Pursuing a claim for wrongful termination based on discrimination is complicated.
Facts that may demonstrate you were wrongfully terminated include:
- Being fired shortly after revealing your cancer diagnosis to your employer or after your employer otherwise knew or suspected you had been diagnosed with cancer.
- Your supervisor or others in the workplace assuming you are unable to do your job because of your cancer diagnosis.
- Your employer denying or ignoring a request you’ve made for reasonable accommodation because of your cancer diagnosis.
- Your employer is refusing to give you time off from work for cancer treatment, doctor’s appointments, or recovery. Your employer then firing you or placing you in a position where you feel you have no choice but to quit.
- Your supervisor or others in the workplace expressing stereotypes or biases based on your cancer diagnosis.
An experienced employment attorney can delve deeply into the circumstances surrounding your termination to make a compelling case for wrongful termination.Contact Us
Do you believe you were wrongfully terminated after being diagnosed with cancer? Do you believe your employer or former employer otherwise violated your rights? If so, call the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC at 800-786-6562 or Contact Us via our online form. Claims for workplace discrimination are time sensitive. We advance all costs. No recovery, no fee.