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Your Rights for Medical Leave After a Cancer Diagnosis
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately two million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer annually. Approximately 45% of them are working age adults. Employment provides vital financial and psychological benefits. A person’s sense of self-worth and connection with society may be intertwined with their job. A cancer diagnosis may, due to medical reasons, force a person to leave the workforce permanently. However, with support from their employer in the form of a reasonable accommodation, many persons diagnosed with cancer are able to keep their jobs. Perhaps the most important reasonable accommodation for an employee diagnosed with cancer is a medical leave of absence.Cancer and the Working Adult
Coping with a cancer diagnosis is difficult for anyone. A cancer diagnosis will tax your body and spirit. A cancer diagnosis will rob you of a sense of normalcy. A cancer diagnosis will affect not only you, but those around you—your family, your friends. As a working adult, dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be particularly difficult. Most people diagnosed with cancer will continue working for years to come. However, many, through no fault of their own, will lose their jobs after a cancer diagnosis. Know your rights. If you are wrongfully terminated due to a cancer diagnosis, contact an experienced employment attorney such as the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC.Communicating With Your Employer After a Cancer Diagnosis
Staying in the workforce after a cancer diagnosis can be tough. You will have to channel energy you would otherwise devote to your recovery into communicating with your employer. While you need not disclose the precise details of your illness, you must tell your employer what accommodations you need to continue working or what limitations you have. You may require a medical leave of absence to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Your employer may ask for a medical certification of your medical condition, which you will then request from your physician. You may require other accommodations from your employer. Examples include shorter workdays, working from home. or limitations on what physical or mental tasks you can perform at work. California law requires your employer to be flexible.How Will Your Employer React After Learning of Your Cancer Diagnosis?
If you are fortunate, your employer will appreciate your past hard work and loyalty. Your employer will do everything possible to ensure that your cancer diagnosis does not cost you your job. Not everyone is fortunate. Workplace discrimination due to a medical condition, such as cancer, is common. Statistically, a cancer diagnosis is correlated with job loss and short-term or long-term financial distress, A cancer diagnosis is correlated with decreased earnings and a decreased quality of life. A cancer diagnosis is correlated with increased spending and increased emotional distress. Many employers consider an employee with a serious illness to be a drag on profits and a disruption to business operations. Fortunately, there are state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and wrongful termination of employment based on a disability or medical condition.Protections for Employees Needing a Medical Leave After a Cancer Diagnosis
If you are discriminated against in the workplace because of your cancer diagnosis, you should consult with an experienced employment attorney such as the attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm. Anti-discrimination laws do not prevent all discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws do provide remedies in the event your employer discriminates against you because of your cancer diagnosis or because you requested or took a protected medical leave.You Have the Right to a Medical Leave After a Cancer Diagnosis
In most circumstances, California law provides an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence for an employee with a serious health condition that requires the employee to take time off from work. A serious health condition is an illness such as cancer that requires inpatient care or continuing treatment by healthcare provider.A Medical Leave Under the California Family Rights Act (California Government Code Sections 12945.1, 12945.2, and 19702.3)
What is the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”)?
The CFRA offers employees an unpaid, job-protected medical leave of absence of up to 12 workweeks per year. The 12 workweeks of leave can be taken all at once or on a staggered basis.
Can all employees take a medical leave of absence under the CFRA?
No. To take a medical leave of absence under the CFRA, you must meet certain eligibility requirements.
- You must work in California or work for a California-based employer.
- You must work for a private employer with 5 or more employees (fulltime or parttime) or a California state or local government of any size.
- You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, and you must have worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the 12 months prior to taking your leave of absence.
- You must require the leave of absence for a qualifying reason such as your own serious health condition.
- You must provide 30 days’ advance notice to your employer of your medical leave of absence. If the unexpected nature of the event makes it impossible to provide 30 days’ advance notice, then you must provide notice as soon as is practicable.
An employer who does not provide an eligible employee with CFRA leave or fires an eligible employee while on CFRA leave or upon returning from CFRA leave may have violated California law. If this happens to you, contact an experienced employment attorney such as the attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm.A Medical Leave as an Accommodation Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act
Perhaps you do not qualify for a medical leave of absence under the CFRA because you have not worked for your employer for at least 12 months or have not worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the past 12 months.
Perhaps you do not qualify for a medical leave under the CFRA because you have already taken 12 weeks of protected medical leave within the last 12 months.
Does this mean if you take additional time off work because of your cancer diagnosis your employer can legally fire you?
Not necessarily. You may still be entitled to an unpaid, job-protected medical leave of absence under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”)(California Government Code sections 12900 – 12996) as a reasonable accommodation.
An employer who does not provide an unpaid, job-protected medical leave of absence under FEHA as a reasonable accommodation may have violated California law. If this happens to you, contact an experienced employment attorney such as the attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm.Contact Us
Do you believe you were wrongfully terminated for requesting or taking a medical leave of absence after a cancer diagnosis? Do you believe your employer or former employer otherwise violated your rights? If so, call the experienced employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form. We advance all costs. No recovery, no fee.