Learning that one has cancer can be a terrifying experience, and it is important the patients receive support in all areas of their lives — including work. Unfortunately, some Rhode Island employers are apparently not as familiar as they should be with the needs of those with disabilities as a result from chronic illness. Workers with cancer and even cancer survivors often deal with workplace discrimination rather than getting the accommodations they need.
The impact of cancer treatment
Cancer treatment can vary from person to person depending on their illness. However, treatment frequently involves chemotherapy, which can negatively affect patients in a number of different ways, including causing immense fatigue. In 2009, the Americans with Disabilities Act was even amended after it was documented that people who have survived cancer frequently continue to experience ongoing difficulties. Patients often report that cancer and its related treatments impedes their ability to:
- Focus on detail
- Process information
Discrimination is common
Studies show that adult workers who have survived cancer face discrimination rates similar to those of other workers with disabilities. The problem of discrimination even follows childhood cancer survivors into adulthood. Adults who survived cancer in their childhood are approximately twice as likely to end up unemployed when compared to peers without a history of cancer. This jumps to nearly five times as likely to be unemployed when looking at adults with a history of cancer in the central nervous system. Common examples of discrimination that workers with cancer face include:
- Unfair working conditions
- Failure to accommodate disabilities
- Wrongful termination
No one should be penalized for getting sick, but this is the sad reality that many workers with cancer face. For someone who has dealt with this type of workplace discrimination, holding a Rhode Island employer responsible for his or her actions might be helpful in two different ways. This is because the victim can recover compensation for his or her damages while also potentially affecting real change that protects future workers.