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July 29, 2005
EEOC Explains How to Apply the ADA in Cancer Cases

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a new question-and-answer document on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to employees and applicants with cancer.

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The document, the fourth in a series of EEOC publications on the ADA's application to specific disabilities, addresses such topics as:

  • When cancer is a disability under the ADA;
  • When an employer may ask an applicant or employee questions about cancer and how it should treat voluntary disclosures; and,
  • What types of reasonable accommodations employees with cancer may need.

The document is available on the EEOC's website, at

EEOC Chairwoman Cari M. Dominguez announced the publication this week, at an event sponsored by the National Council on Disability commemorating the 15th anniversary of the ADA. President George H.W. Bush signed the landmark legislation on July 26, 1990. It bans disability discrimination in employment, state and local government programs, and places of public accommodation.

More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed each year with some form of cancer, and 40 percent of them are working-age adults, Dominguez said. She also noted that nearly 10 million Americans have a history of cancer.

"Because of the significant advances in detection and treatment, cancer no longer is the 'death sentence' it was a century ago, Dominguez said. "Yet people recently diagnosed with cancer and those with a history of cancer still experience discrimination at work based on old stereotypes and unfounded fears. Simple accommodations, like leave or a flexible schedule to allow for treatment, make it possible for many people with cancer to continue to be valuable contributors in the workplace."

In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government, EEOC enforces laws prohibiting race, sex, color, national origin, religion, and age discrimination in employment.


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

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