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How the ADA protects people with cancer in the workplace

Some Pennsylvania employees who have had cancer might still be facing discrimination in the workplace according to a study that appeared in the "Journal of Oncology Practice." While a 2009 amendment to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to protect employees with well-managed disabilities or those in remission who still also faced substantial limitations, the study found this was not always the case.

The study looked at 2,500 employees who filed claims from 2001 to 2011. It found that before and after the amendment, the categories of termination, reasonable accommodation and hiring did not show a significant change before and after the 2009 amendment. For allegations about terms of employment, including forced retirement and denial of promotion, there was an increase in claims filed. This was also true for workplace relations, including intimidation and harassment.

Researchers said their study findings were consistent with those of other studies that found workers with cancer faced similar workplace challenges. One consistent issue appears to be that people who have had cancer may not be able to meet employer and coworker expectations for productivity or may miss work because of cancer. Research has also shown that oncologists may be able to play a role in bringing the mismatched expectations of employees and employers more in line with one another.

People with disabilities who are facing discrimination at work may want to talk to an attorney about whether they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, the employee might want to discuss the parameters of what could be considered "reasonable accommodation." It might be possible for an employee to resolve an issue with discrimination in the workplace, but if this is unsuccessful, it is also possible that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission might assist the employee with a lawsuit.

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