Topic: When you have cancer: your legal rights US

Some people with cancer face roadblocks when they try to go back to work or get a new job. Even those who had cancer many years ago may still have trouble. Employers may not treat them fairly because they believe myths that aren't true. They may believe cancer can be spread from person to person or people with cancer take too many sick days. Some employers also think that people with cancer are poor insurance risks.

It is against the law to discriminate against (treat unfairly) workers who have disabilities such as cancer. These national laws protect your rights as a worker:

The Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
Most states also have laws that protect the rights of people with cancer. You can take legal action (sue) if you think that you are not being hired for a job because of your cancer. Here are some ways to learn more about your legal rights:

Talk with your social worker and ask about laws in your state. He or she can also give you the name of the state agency that protects your rights as an employee.
Contact your state's Department of Labor or Office of Civil Rights.
Contact the office of your state Representative or Senator. You can find out who represents your district and how to contact this person by going on the Internet or visiting a library.
Visit the Web site for the National Cancer Institute's State Cancer Legislative Database Program at http://www.scld-nci.net/
You may also want to learn about the benefits you can get as a person with cancer. One is the Family and Medical Leave Act. This law allows most workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time to deal with certain family and medical problems. To learn more, speak with the Human Resource office where you work. You can also contact the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov/.

Some people can't return to their jobs because of their cancer. For instance, you may no longer be able to lift heavy boxes if that task is a part of your job. If you can't do the work you did before, contact your state Rehabilitation Program. Ask about training programs that teach you the skills you need for other kinds of work. To learn more, look under the state government section in the blue pages of your phone book or check your state's website.

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER