What Are My Rights as a Cancer Patient in a Pennsylvania Workplace?
May 27, 2023 | Employment Law
A cancer diagnosis can be life-altering. Unfortunately, millions of people are forced to deal with the realities of a cancer diagnosis each year. The National Institute of Cancer estimates more than 1.8 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the United States.
Many people associate cancer with total disability. However, many people continue to work while receiving cancer treatments. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your rights as a cancer patient in the workplace in Pennsylvania.
The Americans With Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is federal anti-discrimination legislation. The ADA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Having cancer and being a cancer survivor are included in the ADA protections.
Some of the protections under the ADA for employees with cancer and cancer survivors include, but are not limited to:
- Make reasonable accommodations so that the cancer patient can perform their job duties in the workplace
- Limits when an employer may ask an applicant or employee questions about their cancer diagnosis
- Maintain confidentiality of medical records and only disclose the information under specific situations
- Allow employees leave to attend doctor’s appointments or medical treatments
- Permit leave of absence requests for recovery from medical treatments
- Take steps to prevent harassment by supervisors, co-workers, and other individuals
- Prohibit retaliation by an employer, including demotions and wrongful terminations
Discrimination can take many forms. If you believe you are the victim of discrimination as a cancer patient in the workplace, file a claim with your Human Resources (HR) Department. If your employer refuses to resolve the issue, you can also file a claim with the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to begin an investigation by the EEOC against your employer.
The Pennsylvania Human Rights Act (PHRA) protects employees from discrimination based on several protected classes, including handicap or disability. A cancer patient might also have rights under the PHRA if they are discriminated against because of their cancer diagnosis.
Taking Leave Under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
Workplace protections for cancer patients are also included under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
A cancer diagnosis may mean you are eligible to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave. During your leave, your job is protected. Your employer must return you to your original or similar job with the same terms, conditions, pay, and benefits.
Additionally, if you have group health insurance provided by your employer, you have the right to continued coverage on the same terms during your FMLA leave. However, you must meet eligibility requirements to use FMLA leave.
Qualifying for Short and Long-Term Disability Benefits
A cancer diagnosis could result in temporary or permanent disability. Many employees are covered by short and long-term disability policies at work. Therefore, you could be entitled to employer-provided disability benefits if your cancer diagnosis prevents you from working.
If your cancer diagnosis prevents you from returning to work, you might be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. The types and amounts of benefits you could receive depend on the facts of your case.
Enforcing Your Rights as a Cancer Patient in the Workplace in Pennsylvania
If you face discrimination because of your cancer diagnosis, there are several things you can do to resolve the situation. First, use your employer’s policies and procedures to resolve employment issues. If you require accommodations, make several suggestions for reasonable steps your employer can take to help.
During the process, keep detailed records of all job actions, both good and bad. Keep copies of correspondence with your employer and other employees at your job. Whenever possible, get everything in writing.
When working directly with your employer to resolve cancer discrimination does not work, it is time to seek legal help. A Harrisburg employment discrimination lawyer reviews your case to determine options for filing state and federal employment discrimination complaints.
Your attorney also determines the deadline for filing claims. The deadline for filing complaints related to employment discrimination is generally 180 days from the date of discrimination. Therefore, speaking with a Harrisburg cancer discrimination lawyer as soon as possible is wise.
If you suspect you are being treated less favorably by your employer because of a cancer diagnosis, it is important to speak with an employment lawyer in Harrisburg as soon as possible. Each case is unique. Therefore, additional federal and state employment laws could apply in your case.
In addition to protecting your job, you could be entitled to damages if your employer’s actions caused you harm. An attorney will receive your case for free and advise you of your legal options for seeking damages because of cancer discrimination in the workplace.
Contact the Employment Law Lawyers In Pennsylvania at Marzzacco Niven & Associates For Legal Help With Your Case Today
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