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Hello.  Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had accepted a new position in a call center. This position starts on August 6th.  I am scheduled to have the double mastectomy on August 2nd.  My training for the new job will have me sitting most of the time so I don't worry about that.  My concern is, should I tell my new employer about my condition? If so, how to I approach the subject with them and what do I say?

I have wanted to work for this company for a long time.  On top of that, my new job will be paying me to start $4 more an hour than my old job.

Thanks for all your assistance and input!

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  • Navigating Cancer  S.

    Navigating Cancer S. on Jul 31, 2012

    Hi Patty,
    You certainly bring up an important question of if and when do you disclose your medical condition at work. You are not necessarily required to provide your employer or potential employer with information about your specific diagnosis, but you may need to provide enough information about your medical condition in order to be eligible for some types of medical leave or a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the future.

    A reasonable accommodation can be an adjustment to your physical workspace, a change in your schedule, or a change in the employer’s policy, that will help you to continue to perform your job responsibilities. For example, telecommuting might be a reasonable accommodation, based on your workplace and your job responsibilities. Asking for additional rest periods throughout the work day may also be an accommodation.

    If you think that you will be able to attend work on the 6th, after your surgery, then you may not need to share anything with your employer. If you think that you will not be able to attend your training on the 6th, then perhaps you may need to share information about your medical condition with your employer. This is a personal decision and you are most familiar with those job responsibilities and that workplace.

    If at some point you find that you do need an accommodation at work, then you may decide that you need to share information about your medical condition with your employer. In order to use the ADA’s protections in the workplace, your employer must be aware of your medical condition.

    Similarly, if your employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and you find that you need to take some time off work under the FMLA (e.g., for follow up medical appointments), then you may decide to share information about your medical condition with your employer, to access that FMLA leave.

    For more information about reasonable accommodations, visit www.askjan.org.

    For more information about the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit www.EEOC.gov.

    Joanna L. Fawzy
    Morales, Esq.


    Cancer Rights Attorney

    CEO, Navigating Cancer
    Survivorship


    www.NavigatingCancerSurvivorship.org

    Please note that the above information is designed to provide general information on the topics presented. It is provided with the understanding that the expert is not engaged in rendering any legal or professional services in the information provided above. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for professional services.

  • Anne H.

    Anne H. on Oct 11, 2012

    Hi Patty,

    I am 33 years old and in a similar position. I graduated in May and signed a contract with a new employer in June with a start date of November 1st. Unfortunately last week I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My surgery is October 24th so I will be able to attend my training sessions, but I will need some time off here and there for chemo and radiation. I would like to know if the Americans with Disabilities Act protects me even if I have not officially started my employment with my new company.  Can they terminate my contract? I would also like to know if I can use FMLA because I already used 12 weeks this calendar year for the birth of my son.

    Thanks, Anne

  • Navigating Cancer  S.

    Navigating Cancer S. on Oct 14, 2012

    Dear Anne,
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to all phases of the employment process, which means that it protects job applicants as well as employees from discrimination in the workplace. The purpose of the employment provisions in the ADA are to prevent employers from making any employment related decisions based on your medical information, such as firing you, terminating your contract, or taking back your job offer, just because they find out information about your medical condition.  However, in order for you to be protected under the ADA, you do have to disclose your medical condition to your employer.  But this does not always mean that you have to disclose your exact diagnosis. 
    With regard to needing to adjust your work schedule or taking time off for treatment and recovery, you may be able to use medical leave offered by your employer through a company policy, if they have one. You may also be able to get reasonable accommodations under the ADA to meet some of those needs. However, because it sounds like you have not worked for the new employer for at least 12 months, than you are unlikely to qualify for FMLA leave. The FMLA requires that you work for an employer for a total of 12 months within the last 7 years and that you work a minimum of 1250 hours during those 12 months. Even if you had stayed at your previous employer, it sounds like you already used 12 weeks of FMLA within the last 12 months, which is the maximum amount of leave time offered under the FMLA.
    See the resources in the post above for more information about the ADA and reasonable accommodations. For more information about the FMLA, visit: www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm.

    Joanna L. Fawzy Morales, Esq.
    Cancer Rights Attorney
    CEO, Navigating Cancer Survivorship
    www.NavigatingCancerSurvivorship.org
    Please note that the above information is designed to provide general information on the topics presented. It is provided with the understanding that the expert is not engaged in rendering any legal or professional services in the information provided above. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for professional services.

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