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ADA Amendments Do Not Eliminate Workplace Discrimination for Cancer Patients

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed initially in 1990, the Act did not provide protections for employees whose cancer went into remission.  The law changed in 2009 to allow a worker to file an ADA complaint if he or she experienced discrimination based on the long-term effects of previous cancer.

The Journal of Oncology Practice recently published a study that examined the number of ADA allegations filed between 2001 and 2008, before the amendments went into effect, and between 2009 and 2011, after the amendments passed.

The study found that employees were more likely to file claims for reasons like forced retirement or denied promotions or workplace retaliations like intimidation or harassment after the amendments passed.  But in terms of claims for reasonable accommodation, termination, and hiring, the number of claims remained the same for both periods.

Therefore, researchers concluded that employees with histories of cancer filed ADA allegations at the same pace before and after the 2009 amendments.  The researchers suggest involving patients’ oncologists in the process since they can provide informed explanations of the employees’ capabilities and help both employees and employers agree on reasonable expectations for workplace performance.