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Fired From Work After Cancer Diagnosis?
Cancer survival rates in the United States, including California, have improved in recent decades. Cancer incidence rates in the United States, including California, have declined over the same time period. While this is certainly good news and these welcome trends are likely to continue, people still develop cancer—and many of them experience discrimination in the workplace, including being fired after notifying their employer of a cancer diagnosis.The Prevalence of Cancer in The Workplace
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.6 million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. According to the National Business Group on Health and the American Cancer Society, one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 45% of individuals diagnosed with cancer are 20 to 64 years of age, the traditional working age range.The Consequences of a Cancer Diagnosis in The Workplace
Even when the prognosis is good and the treatment plan is manageable for a working person, some employers, and their supervisors and coworkers, perceive people with cancer as being unable to work productively during and after cancer treatment. Employers may expect workers diagnosed with cancer to take long medical leaves of absence from work and be unable to focus adequately on their job tasks. As a result, some employers promptly fire workers upon learning that the worker has a cancer diagnosis. In this situation, an employer will rarely tell the worker that he or she is being fired due to the cancer diagnosis. Rather, the employer will try to hide the fact that the worker is being fired for cancer by offering another reason for the termination—a pretext, such as poor attendance or performance, elimination of the worker’s job position—which if believed would absolve the employer of liability for firing the worker. Thus, if this has happened to you, it is important to Contact an experienced employment attorney, such as the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC. An experienced employment attorney will delve into specific facts of your situation and determine whether a persuasive case can be made that the real reason you were fired was due to your cancer diagnosis, regardless of the reason claimed by your employer.Fair Employment and Housing Act
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (California Government Code section 12900, et seq.) prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a Physical Disability, Mental Disability or Medical Condition. The term “Medical Condition” includes “Any health impairment related to or associated with a diagnosis of cancer or a record or history of cancer.” California Government Code section 12926(i)(1).Informing Your Employer Of Your Cancer Diagnosis
Informing your employer of your cancer diagnosis is a personal choice. If you believe your ability to work will not be affected by your cancer diagnosis, you may choose to delay informing your employer about your situation. However, a cancer diagnosis may require that things be made easier for you. If this applies to you, it may be necessary to inform your employer of your diagnosis. That way a solution can be worked out that will enable you to keep your job. Under FEHA, employers must make reasonable accommodations for known medical conditions, including cancer, unless doing so would produce undue hardship to the employer's operations. See California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 11069 and California Government Code section 12940(m)(1). This provision enables many workers to keep their jobs and continue working despite the challenges caused by their diagnosis. Therefore, notifying your employer of your cancer diagnosis can be crucial. Once your employer is aware of your diagnosis, the employer has an affirmative duty to engage with you in a timely, good faith interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodation you require so you can remain employed despite your diagnosis. Your employer may need to know such things as how long you will be able to continue working and whether you can continue performing all your job duties. Your employer may need to know whether you need time off from work and when you are likely to return. Depending on the circumstances, a reasonable accommodation could be a finite medical leave of absence to undergo treatment or surgery and to recover from the same. A reasonable accommodation could be allowing you an extra 10-minute break during your workday so you can rest and recuperate. A reasonable accommodation could be a flexible work schedule so you can attend follow-up appointments and treatment or to ease back into a fulltime work schedule. A reasonable accommodation could be shorter workdays or assigning a different set of job duties.When Informing Your Employer Of A Cancer Diagnosis Leads To You Being Fired From Your Job
A cancer diagnosis may have profound physical and psychological effects on a person. Continued employment provides the affected person with psychological and financial benefits, both in terms of income and the continuation of health benefits so the person can receive needed care without threat of an interruption in treatment due to a loss of insurance coverage. When you are fired after disclosing a cancer diagnosis to your employer, you may feel a loss of self-esteem, as your employer has implied that you are no longer a valued member of the labor force. You may feel depressed, emotionally distressed, and abandoned, separated from your coworkers and your routine. You may have to scramble to obtain unemployment or disability benefits and to find alternate medical insurance coverage. You may suffer a decreased quality of life. Depending on the details of your circumstances, these losses may be addressed as damages in a lawsuit filed on your behalf by an experienced employment attorney.Contact Us
If your employer has fired you from your job because you have been diagnosed with cancer, or if you employer or former employer otherwise violated your rights under the law, call the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.