I’m an attorney with the Cancer Legal Resource Center, a national program that provides free legal information to cancer patients and healthcare professionals. It often surprises people to hear that cancer patients may need legal advice, but it’s not uncommon, and the right guidance can make your experience smoother. Here are the five reasons we often help people and why you might need to seek out legal support:
1. If you think you’ve been discriminated against at work.
If cancer or treatment side effects have made working at your job more difficult, then you may be able to get reasonable accommodations at your workplace. For example, a workplace may provide a stool for a cashier who has a difficult time standing for long periods of time as a result of cancer treatment so that the cashier would be able to take short rest breaks. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that makes it illegal for private employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against qualified employees with disabilities. Cancer or the effects of cancer can be a disability under the ADA, because they might substantially impair major life activities such as eating, sleeping, or concentrating. A lawyer can help you understand how to request a reasonable accommodation at work, and will likely explain that your employer can ask you to give them medical certification.