When Does an Employee's Cancer Diagnosis Become a Disability?

As a top temporary staffing agency in Houston, Texas, Murray Resources knows that if you manage a business, the chances of you having an employee who gets sick are high. But what about when an employee is diagnosed with a serious illness, like cancer? What is the law – and what are your responsibilities under it?

When Cancer is a Disability

Cancer is a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act when it or its side effects substantially limit(s) one or more of a person’s major life activities.

For example:

An employee is diagnosed with cancer and because of a weakened immune system caused by treatment, he has to temporarily avoid interactions with most people except for medical professionals, caregivers and immediate family.

Even in less severe cases, when cancer does not necessarily limit the major life activities of an employee, the diagnosis could lead to other issues, like anxiety and depression. When such conditions last long enough – for several months, for instance – and impact an employee’s ability to interact with others, eat, sleep, or perform other life activities, then this falls under a disability protected by the ADA.

What You Should Do

Under the law, you must provide accommodations for your employee just as you would for any other disabled employee. In other words, you must make reasonable accommodations that enable the employee to perform the essential functions of their job. Part of this includes communicating with the employee to determine what their needs are.

Examples of how you might accommodate them include:

• A more flexible schedule, a part-time schedule, or reduced hours
• Allowing the employee to work from home
• Re-assigning non-essential functions of their job
• Allowing for rest periods during the day
• Creating a private space for the employee to make phone calls (to doctors or other caregivers) or to rest in
• Allowing for a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act

Keep in mind that cancer impacts people emotionally, physically, and mentally in different ways. Therefore, as an employer, it’s important to work with your employee to consider a variety of means in which you can help accommodate them.

Need to Supplement Your Workforce?

If you have an employee on sick leave, and need to supplement your workforce until they return, let us know. As a top temporary staffing agency in Houston, Texas, we can give you access to a network of qualified and dependable temporary talent – where and when you need it.

Contact Murray Resources today to learn more.