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Looking for some legal help

lisamnovak's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2010

I just got fired from my job after almost 10 yrs. I know it was because I was missing so much work. Does anyone know of a good female attny in the St. Louis area?

Sher43009's picture
Posts: 602
Joined: Nov 2009

Check with your state labor department. As a cancer survivor you fall under the Americans with Disability Act. Dr. Susan Love's website has a legal section on it to check out. Good luck.

DebbyM's picture
Posts: 3293
Joined: Oct 2009

Sher gave good advice. We are in the Disability Act now. You might also call the American Cancer Society and see if they have any suggestions. Good luck!


lisamnovak's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2010

Did you get fired too?

lisamnovak's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2010

Thanks! I appreicate your help!

Kat11's picture
Posts: 1931
Joined: May 2009

My husband sued his company of 25 years after her was let go 4 weeks after a work comp injury. We new they let him go because of the injury. The courts agreed. You need a good lawyer. If you can prove it was because of your illness, you will have a case I believe.

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

I was laid off. You can write me privet message(email) with details. Did you get severance or it was a disciplinary action? Are you currently in treatment? I do have experience in negotiations of my own case. I had to leave and currently looking for a job, but got Cobra and severance money. We also recently had a post about discriminations at work. I will try to find it. PLEASE Do not sign any papers!!!!
Old post: 12/14/09 by meena1 titled: Problem with work/job...put on probation and need advise has summary of similar situation.
New Flower

meena1's picture
Posts: 1005
Joined: Oct 2008

I had the post about problems at work. I also have been at my company for over 10 years and they threatened to put me on probation and they could fire me at any time within 90 days. I did make a couple of errors, and that is what they based it on. I am doing better right now, just a month to month basis. Were you on Family Medical Leave, You should be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act, but you do need to apply for that. Your employer cannot fire you for taking time off from work for treatments, you are also covered under the Disability Act, Cancer is a covered diagnosis. You need to prove that is why they fired you. Also, how many employees does your company have. I called the American Cancer Society and they gave me the phone # of a legal group, so start there first. Take care and Good Luck

lisamnovak's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2010

Thanks for the info. Good luck! Hugs

lisamnovak's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2010

I am new to this site and do not know how to send an e-mail. You can send me an e-mail and I will respond...maybe in the e-mail, you can tell me how to send one! LOL!

aztec45's picture
Posts: 757
Joined: Jul 2009

Here is some info I posted to another post like this. Hope it helps. Contact a lawyer or try the Patients Advocate Agency. Don't put up with this treatment.

For breast cancer:

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA)

Connecticut Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act (SB334)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)


Social Security Benefits

See more detail at http://breastcancer.uchc.edu/toc/financial/laws.html

How does employment discrimination apply to cancer?
Employment discrimination occurs when an employer makes decisions about your employment based on certain characteristics (for example, race, age, sex, physical ability and religion), without looking at whether you can actually perform the job. For cancer survivors, employment discrimination could be focused on your medical condition. This discrimination can be based on myths, fears and stereotypes about what people with cancer can or cannot do at work. An employment decision should not be based on speculation or a guess about what a post-treatment or long-term cancer survivor can and cannot do in the workplace.

Employment discrimination also includes an employer’s failure to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to allow a qualified person with cancer to perform his or her job. An accommodation is a change your employer makes to help you do your job during or after your cancer treatment. Examples of accommodations include a change in the number of hours you work or changes to your job duties.

Experiencing employment discrimination after you have successfully completed treatment for cancer is very discouraging. With all of the health, emotional and financial challenges of treatment, experiencing employment discrimination can seem overwhelming and unfair. Because discrimination happens, survivors must learn about the laws and their rights.

Why would a cancer survivor be at risk for employment discrimination?

Cancer, cancer treatment or late effects of cancer may or may not affect your ability to do your job. If it does not affect your job performance, you are not required to tell your employer about your cancer.

Your cancer, cancer treatment or late effects of treatment may entitle you to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If so, your employer cannot discriminate against you because you have cancer or late effects of cancer as long as you are qualified to do your job. In addition, if your cancer or late effects of cancer interfere with your job, your employer may need to provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform the essential functions of your job.

Some common reasons survivors experience employment discrimination include:

Employers sometimes have incorrect assumptions about what cancer survivors can or cannot do.
Survivors sometimes need to leave town for treatment.
Employers are often uncertain about the time requirements needed for cancer treatment or follow-up appointments.
Employers sometimes fear their insurance costs will go up.
Survivors may need to change how they perform their job.
Employers sometimes incorrectly view cancer as a death sentence and are worried that survivors may not be able to perform their job duties.
Sometimes post-treatment and long-term survivors have effects from their cancer treatment, such as fatigue, chronic pain or some type of cognitive problem. If a person is qualified to do his or her job, the employer will need to provide a reasonable accommodation.

Which federal laws protect cancer survivors?

Two main federal laws protect cancer survivors from employment discrimination: the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Both are described below.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA’s goal is to “level the playing field” for people with disabilities so that they have equal opportunity for employment. The ADA applies to all phases of the employment process, including hiring, benefits, promotions, layoffs and raises.

Who is covered under the ADA?

The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees and to employees of state and local governments. State employees cannot sue for monetary damages against their state employer, but can still sue their state to get their job back. State employees may also have additional protection under their own state laws.

How do you get protection under the ADA?

The ADA applies to a person who is a “qualified individual with a disability.”

A person can show they are disabled by the following:

Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life function, such as concentrating, sleeping, eating, walking, talking, breathing, caring for oneself; or
Having a history of an impairment; or
Being regarded as having an impairment
Post-treatment and long-term survivors may fall into the category of “having a history of an impairment.”

The disability must be looked at in its corrected condition. For example, you have to look at how a person is doing at the time s/he thinks the discrimination occurred and what the effects of the cancer treatment were at that time. If medications were effectively limiting the symptoms, then the person may not be protected. This means that if your cancer treatment symptoms or your post-treatment symptoms are under control by medications, you MAY NOT be protected. This is decided on a case by case basis.

A person must also be a “qualified individual.” This legal term means the person can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. The employer must provide reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual so long as it does not create an undue hardship to the employer.

Some examples of reasonable accommodations are:

Reassignment to a vacant position
Light duty
Flexible hours
Possibly a period of leave time
Generally, employees must ask the employer for a reasonable accommodation. A company’s human resource department often supervises the accommodations. All requests for accommodation are confidential.

Do I have to tell my employer I have cancer if I don’t need a reasonable accommodation?

This is a personal choice each person must make. You are not required to tell your employer you have or had cancer. Not every employee wants to tell his or her employer. Some employees are concerned that if they tell their employer they have or had cancer, they will be treated differently and will be discriminated against. Some survivors choose not to disclose their medical condition if they do not need the employer to make any reasonable accommodations. However, if you think you are being discriminated against because you have or had cancer, you are not entitled to protection under these laws if your employer does not know about your medical condition.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The other federal law that helps cancer survivors and their caregivers is the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under the FMLA, a person can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave in a year to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent or child or for an employee’s serious medical condition. The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. A person must have worked at the company for at least one year and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in that year to take leave under the FMLA.

The leave is unpaid. However, the employee’s job is protected. This means that the employee can return to the same or an equivalent position. The employee’s benefits also stay in place. If the employer is paying for someone’s health insurance, the employer will continue to pay while a person is on FMLA leave time.

The leave time can be taken all at once or as a person needs to take time off. Also, cancer patients may be able to take time off for 12 weeks under the FMLA and then possibly take an extended medical leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Do state laws protect cancer survivors’ employment rights?

The state where you live may have similar or more protective laws that protect people with cancer. These laws may apply to employers with fewer employees than under the ADA. Find out the specific FMLA law for the state in which you reside. This law may be different in each state.

Can an employer fire someone who has cancer?

Employers do not have to hold someone’s job indefinitely. How long an employer must hold someone’s job generally depends on whether the time off creates an undue hardship for the employer. The employer may also have a medical leave policy that limits the amount of time someone can take off.

Employers can fire people for many reasons. For example, a company can “downsize” and many employees may lose their jobs. Or, an employee can be fired for not doing a good job. However, an employer cannot fire people with disabilities just because they have disabilities.

What can a survivor do to prevent employment discrimination?

Do not lie on a job or insurance application. You don’t want to lose your job or your health insurance because you did not tell the truth.

You do not have to volunteer that you have or had cancer unless it directly affects your ability to perform the job.

Be confident in your abilities and apply for jobs that match your abilities.

Educate yourself about your legal rights as a cancer survivor.

Prepare your resume so that it focuses on your skills and work experience and not periods of unemployment.

You may have to explain periods of unemployment. Focus on your current health, and, if possible, explain why you are now in good health and expect to remain in good health.

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

Lis, please continue your treatment and focus on your health.

Employers know how to avoid being correct. Most of cancer survivors have been faired due to two reason:
(1) Employers can fire people for many reasons. For example, a company can “downsize” and many employees may lose their jobs. (2) Or, an employee can be fired for not doing a good job. Unfortunately, there is not enough protection under those laws.

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