productivity (Roessler and Sumner, 1997). According to some estimates, the costs of accommodations for workers with disabilities needing special accommodations are typically very low; 71 percent of accommodations cost $500 or less, with 20 percent of those costing nothing (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004b).

Most employment discrimination laws protect only the employee. The ADA offers protection more responsive to survivors’ needs because it also prohibits discrimination against family members. Employers may not discriminate against workers because of their relationship or association with a “disabled” person. Employers may not assume that an employee’s job performance would be affected by the need to care for a family member who has cancer. An important exclusion of the Americans with Disabilities Act is contractual employees. Many people are “self-employed,” but contract their services to large organizations that may terminate a survivor’s contract without regard to the provisions of the ADA. Also excluded from ADA protection are those working for employers with fewer than 15 employees. Among private employees, an estimated 15 percent work for companies with fewer than 10 employees and an additional 11 percent work for companies with 10 to 19 employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005).7

The EEOC is charged with enforcing the ADA and other civil rights laws. During the 4-year period FY 2000–2003, the EEOC received 1,785 charges of cancer-related disability discrimination under the ADA, representing about 3 percent of all charges during this period (Table 6-2). The EEOC resolved 2,013 cancer-related disability discrimination charges,8 with one-quarter (510/2,013) having outcomes favorable to charging parties or charges with meritorious allegations. The EEOC recovered $11 million in monetary benefits for 352 people (including charging parties and other aggrieved individuals). This amount does not include monetary benefits obtained through litigation.

Another source of information regarding the extent of cancer-related employment problems is the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004c). JAN provides employers and other interested parties with information on job accommodations and employment opportunities and policies. In 2003, JAN handled 514 cases related to cancer (about 2 percent of their calls and e-mails). These came from

7  

Information was not available from published sources on the number of private-sector employees working in companies with fewer than 15 employees.

8  

The fact that there are more resolutions than charges is not unique to cancer cases and likely results from claims with multiple issues resulting in several resolutions.



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