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Fired Due to Breast Cancer
Cancer occurs when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer can start in one or both breasts. Breast cancer can start in one of several parts of the breast. Breast cancer accounts for about 15% of all new cancer cases. Approximately 13% of all women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. There are close to 4 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including women who are still treating as well as those who have completed treatment.Laws That Prohibit Discrimination, Including Firing a Person, Due to Breast Cancer
It is unlawful to fire a person because she has cancer. Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, it is unlawful to do so if an employer has 15 or more employees. At least to some extent, every state within the United States has a law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on disability, including cancer. In California protections are particularly strong. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (California Government Code section 12900, et seq.) expressly prohibits Discrimination in the workplace (including firing a person) based on a Medical Condition if the employer has five or more employees. The term “Medical Condition” as defined under FEHA includes any health impairment related to or associated with a diagnosis of … yes, cancer. Consequently, you have rights as an employee who has disclosed your cancer diagnosis to your employer.
Protections against discrimination, including firing a person, due to cancer are of great societal importance. Many people have compelling reasons to want to continue working to the extent they are able after a cancer diagnosis. Continuing to work after a cancer diagnosis is beneficial not only for financial reasons, but also because work—having a job, a career, a profession—can be central to a person’s psychological health and identity. Continuing to work (as well as retaining one’s status as an employee while out on a leave of absence) can help a cancer victim retain a sense of personal fulfillment, and to feel productive and hold on to a sense of normality. As in so many other areas of life, these protections are particularly important because lower income women tend to suffer the brunt of discrimination more than their better paid counterparts. According to some sources, less well-paid women are much more likely to lose their jobs by the end of cancer treatment than those more highly paid. This in part is because employers tend to be more accommodating towards highly-paid employees.Breast Cancer and Work
The effect a breast cancer diagnosis will have on work life will vary from person to person. Just like life itself, everyone’s experience is a little different. However, a cancer diagnosis is always devastating. A cancer diagnosis preys on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. With all of that to deal with, a cancer diagnosis should not also be a threat to your job and financial security. If you are fortunate, the effect a breast cancer diagnosis has on your working life may be manageable. Of course, this will depend on the type of work you do, your overall health, the stage of your cancer, and the nature of the treatment you are receiving. If you are fortunate, the therapy, treatment, and/or surgery required will not create side effects such as nausea, fatigue, memory loss, or lack of concentration to the extent that you cannot work for long periods of time. You may even be able to work your usual full-time schedule. But even if you cannot maintain your usual full-time schedule, you may have a sympathetic employer who will treat you fairly and legally and will work with you and support your commitment to keep your job by providing you with time off from work, a flexible work schedule so you can attend scheduled appointments, or other accommodations to make it easier to keep on working or to return to work following treatment. An example of an accommodation could be allowing you to work at home on certain days, or to reassign you to a workstation nearer to a lavatory. An accommodation could be allowing you to take additional short breaks during the workday to rest and recuperate. Your employer may speak to a coworker about taking on some of your workload. The reality of how cancer affects you may not match up with your expectations. Working while undergoing treatment for breast cancer may be easier or much more difficult than you expected. Hopefully, your employer understands this and is willing to work with you.Breast Cancer and Being Wrongfully Fired From Your Job
Unfortunately, some employers are biased or prejudiced against individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer. After a breast cancer diagnosis, you might be passed up for a promotion for which you were qualified. After a breast cancer diagnosis, you might be moved to a less desirable department. After a breast cancer diagnosis, you might be targeted for off-color jokes, which, under certain circumstances, may constitute a form of discrimination known as Harassment. After a breast cancer diagnosis, you might even be fired from your job due to breast cancer and left without employer-provided insurance. Keep in mind that being fired due to breast cancer is unlawful regardless of whether the employer calls it a termination, a separation, or being laid off, and regardless of whether the employer conjures up a fake reason, a pretext, which if taken at face value would be a lawful reason for firing you. You are especially likely to be fired due to breast cancer if you need to take significant time off from work (so your employer perceives it is being left in the lurch) under the California Family Rights Act (California Government Code sections 12945.1, 12945.2, and 19702.3), or as an accommodation under FEHA to concentrate on your breast cancer treatment and personal wellbeing.
If you are fired due to breast cancer, depending on your circumstances, you may want to sue your former employer for employment discrimination under FEHA. Be aware that strict time requirements apply to bringing a lawsuit under FEHA, both for the actual filing of the lawsuit with a court of law and the requirement that you first obtain a right-to-sue notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Also be aware that to successfully pursue an employment discrimination case, a careful analysis and evaluation of the underlying facts of your situation is necessary to counter any claim by your former employer that you were fired for non-discriminatory reasons. Therefore, if you have been fired to due breast cancer, it is highly advisable that you Contact an experienced employment attorney like the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC.Contact Us
If your employer has fired you from your job due to breast cancer or another form of cancer, or if your employer or former employer has otherwise violated your rights under the law, call the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.