Be the Boss Over Cancer

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Although people are generally more enlightened about cancer than they were a decade ago, misinformation and misconceptions are still common. If you feel discriminated against, take action sooner rather than later:

  • Write down what happened when, making the notes detailed and precise, reporting incidents as factually and objectively as possible. If appropriate, save, print or record pertinent voice-mail or e-mail messages.
  • Know your rights. Before you do anything at work, look into whether you are protected by the federal American with Disabilities Act or your state's Fair Employment Law. Often, state laws offer more protection than ADA. Locate contact information for your state's Fair Employment Practices Agency at cancerlegalresourcecenter.org.

Among your options:

  • Talk to your supervisor or human resources manager. You might solve the problem easily with a meeting or two. If any coworkers recently dealt with a cancer diagnosis, find out if they experienced discrimination and how they handled the situation
  • Get legal advice. In some situations, it may be appropriate to meet with an attorney and even take legal action. Sometimes, a decision that you make may affect your ability to take legal action in the future, so meeting with an attorney now can help you make an educated decision.
    • Talk to the Cancer Legal Resource Center. Each year, thousands of cancer patients nationwide receive free consultations from this organization. You'll be linked with an attorney, insurance agent or accountant in your area who can provide you with legal resources and help you figure out your next step. Visit cancerlegalresourcecenter.org for more information.
    • Talk to the Patient Advocate Foundation. This nonprofit organization can connect you with an attorney or case manager who can help you try to resolve cancer-related job-retention issues. Visit patientadvocate.org for more information.