Some Texas workers who have had cancer might face discrimination in the workplace despite the fact that 2009 amendments to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act protects them. According to the 2009 amendments, people who have a disability that substantially limits their life in some way while still being well-managed or in remission are protected from discrimination. However, a study published in the “Journal of Oncology Practice” found that people in this category were still suffering from workplace discrimination.
The study, which looked at 2,500 workers who filed claims in two groups before and after the passage of the amendments from 2001 to 2011, found more claims that dealt with workplace relations and employment terms after the amendments were passed. Claims dealing with reasonable accommodation, hiring and termination did not differ significantly. Employment terms were the one category where courts were more likely to agree a claim had merit after the amendments passed. In the other four categories, there was little change.
Researchers identified problems around reasonable accommodations as one area that needed improvement. The report said that the amendments still provided insufficient protection for employees because of the expectations of employers and recommended more involvement from oncology professionals to better align employer expectations with worker abilities.
Some employers may not realize that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects workers who may not be visibly disabled or may discourage workers from pursuing protection using the ADA. However, disabled workers, as defined by the ADA, are not only protected from discrimination, but must also be offered reasonable accommodation in the workplace. This could mean having different duties, but an employer may not be required to keep an employee on who is not capable of performing their job at all. Employees may want to consult an attorney to better understand their rights.