If you were fired because you have cancer, you may be able to pursue a claim against your employer for disability discrimination. Cancer is a condition that is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you believe that you have been discriminated against and mistreated because of your condition and diagnosis, talk with a disability discrimination attorney in your area.
As an example, you are a 35-year-old woman who is well educated, experienced, and competent. You have been in the same job position for 8 years and received only good evaluations. You had 10 years of additional experience in the job role before making the move to this employer. You weren’t feeling well, so you went to the doctor who ordered some tests. You have been diagnosed with leukemia.
You tell your employer of your diagnosis because you will need to make arrangements and adjust your work schedule to undergo treatments. You also inquire about the possibility of taking medical leave should the need arise. Two days later you are called in to your manager’s office and you are fired. They didn’t give you a legitimate reason for your termination, but you were told that it would give you more time to focus on your recovery and treatment of the cancer.
If this is like the scenario that you experienced, then your employer may have violated the ADA. You may have legal grounds to pursue a claim against them for disability discrimination.
Cancer and the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that applies to employers who have 15 or more employees working either part-time or full-time during the previous year. Many states have enacted their own laws to supplement the ADA, so you may still be able to pursue a claim against a smaller employer. According to the law, not all injuries or ailments are considered a disability.
You must meet the specific criteria for a disabled worker as the statute indicates. The ADA indicates that an employee must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities, as defined by law, include human senses such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, and reading. Disabilities claims can arise from different impairments, such as allergies, paralysis, intellectual impairments, learning disabilities, and even cancer.
Covered Under the FMLA
Even if your condition doesn’t meet the disability definition to qualify as a disability under the ADA, it may still be covered under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal act that provides employees with job-protected unpaid leave for qualified family and medical reasons. The FMLA allows eligible employees to take as much as 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to care for a new child, seriously ill relative, or recover from a serious illness such as cancer.
To be eligible for FMLA, you must have worked for your employer for a minimum of 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months, and work for an employer who has at least 50 employees. Some states have additional laws that allow additional family and medical leave protection for employees. Your cancer will allow you to request time off through the FMLA, and if your request is denied and you are fired from the job, you may be able to base your claim on that action.
What To Do If Fired
If you are fired from your job, and you believe it was because you have cancer, you should gather evidence that shows your employer is in violation of the laws. Keep track of your employer’s behavior. Be sure to jot down notes of any conversations and what was said and done. Also, if the employer seems to have concerns or make negative remarks about your condition, be sure to write down the date, time, and individual who made the comments along with what was said.
You have the right to ask for reasonable accommodations, such as a shortened work week, a longer lunch break, or shorter workdays. If you have made these requests or similar requests and your employer denied your request, then you should ask why your requests were denied. Your employer should provide you with a valid reason that explains why your request was denied and why they didn’t have to adhere to the ADA. You cannot be terminated for simply asking to exercise your rights under the ADA.
Speak With An Employment Law Attorney
If you believe you were fired because you have cancer, you should speak with an employment law attorney who handles such claims in your state. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page so a lawyer in your area can review the details and determine if you have a claim.