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Cancer victims and wrongful termination: victim rights

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, West Virginia employers cannot discriminate against employees with a physical disability. A person who is diagnosed with a condition that could impair his or her ability to work, such as a cancer, should take steps to fully understand his or her rights. When a cancer patient is subjected to wrongful termination or harassment, legal options are available.

It is important to note that an employer may not ask a potential hire if he or she has had cancer or is currently receiving cancer treatments before offering a job. It is also illegal for an employer to ask if an individual has ever needed leave from work for surgery or medical treatment. However, certain questions about the applicant's ability to complete job-related tasks may be asked.

If an employer knows that an employee has cancer and has observed instances where he or she has been unable to meet the demands of the job, it may be appropriate to ask about the duration of treatment and related questions. Employees who have been on leave for cancer treatments can be required to provide medical documentation before they can return to work. As there is a fine line between appropriate questioning and harassment, it is wise to seek the opinion of a lawyer if an employee believes that an employer has acted inappropriately.

There is no place for harassment in the West Virginia workplace. Every individual has the right to withhold medical information that is not pertinent to his or her job duties, even if the employer has asked. If an individual is a victim of wrongful termination because of a serious illness, it may be appropriate to take legal action against the employer.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Questions & Answers about Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)", Accessed on July 1, 2015

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