Legal Protections in the Workplace

Your Cancer History

Legally, your cancer history can’t be used against you in the workplace, and you don't have to tell potential employers about your medical history. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees your right to health privacy and prohibits employers with 15 or more employees, from discriminating against employees or qualified job applicants based on disability, including cancer.

Some things to consider:

  • You may need or want to disclose your cancer experience if side effects from treatment impact your ability to work.
  • You have the right to ask for part-time work or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations, like flexible schedules for doctor visits.
  • A letter from your doctor can help communicate your specific needs to your employer.

Don't be afraid to mention difficulties caused by your cancer or treatment

Limitations from cancer treatment side effects are considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so employers must provide reasonable accommodations, including:
  •     Setting work breaks to take medication, see a doctor or reduce cancer fatigue
  •     Assigning you to a position that better fits your new hours or abilities
  •     Providing access to an employee assistance program for confidential counseling

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for health reasons. Companies with at least 50 employees are required by law to provide this job protection. FMLA leave may be taken in small amounts, like hours or days. If you didn’t use all of your FMLA benefits during cancer treatment, you might be able to use some after treatment for medical reasons.