Job Issues Due To Cancer
One of the Employment Lawyers Group’s missions is to fight for the work rights of employees whom suffer from cancer. The discrimination, failure to accommodate, harassment, or termination of an employee undergoing cancer are actions we consider amongst the most base and vile of any employment actions. Although we do not make guarantees, one guarantee we will make is any workplace case involving the mistreatment of an employee due to cancer will be fought by our firm with vigilance, diligence, and care we are doubtful you will find in another employee rights firm.
Employees suffering from cancer are protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) if they work for an employer with 5 or more employees. Length of employment is not a prerequisite to being entitled to accommodations at work due to cancer treatment. Cancer is defined as a, “Medical condition” under FEHA. The coverage of FEHA extends to any health impairment related to or associated with a diagnosis of cancer or a record or history of cancer. Medical Condition discrimination under FEHA further covers genetic characteristics. Many forms of cancer including bowel and BRACA (a gene causing women to experience breast cancer at an 87% rate and usually also ovarian cancer) are genetically passed.
Besides being Medical Conditions under FEHA, cancer may be a disability under FEHA. Disabilities are diseases and histories of diseases, or perceptions somebody has either. The condition must limit major life activities. Limiting major life activities means major life activities are made difficult.
A biopsy for skin cancer and in-office removal of a growth that did not spread is probably not a disability. Time off for these doctor visits is, however, protected as a medical condition. A diagnosis of BRACA followed by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery, follow-up appointments, regular screenings, and MRIS every six months is probably a disability. Cancers that spread to different parts of the body and require an employee to be out of work for a year, and involve removals of organs are likely to be disabilities. Stomach cancer that causes somebody to only be able to drink liquids, at frequent intervals is a permanent physical disability. However, it is important to remember that in order to receive job protection cancer does not have to be a disability. All forms of cancer receive protection under FEHA as Medical Conditions.
Reasonable accommodations are the biggest issues in cancer discrimination cases. Reasonable accommodations involve time off for medical appointments, time off for surgery or hospitalizations, and time off to heal. In order to understand what is reasonable in terms of how long an employee can be off work, a consultation with one of our cancer rights advocates is required. Recently, firm head Karl Gerber successfully represented a woman off for approximately a year due to cancer treatment and obtained an $182,500 settlement for her. His first cancer case was in the 1990s.
Reasonable accommodations also include job modifications, transfers to available positions, making facilities accessible (including one’s work station).
Employers cannot terminate an employee because they have been diagnosed with cancer. Nor can they terminate an employee because they must undergo medical treatment due to cancer.