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Tips for Talking with Your Employer and Your Workplace Rights

You may not be sure whether it's wise to let your employer know that you have cancer. You may want to seek advice from a professional counselor who understands employment rights for people living with cancer.

Consider telling your employer if:

  • You may need time off for treatments or because you don't feel well
  • You're eligible to take Family and Medical Leave
  • You're applying for a new position

You might be considering not confiding in your employer if:

  • You're afraid you won't get a raise or promotion
  • You don't want people to feel sorry for you
  • You're afraid of losing your job

If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), you may want to take advantage of it. The EAP counselors can help you deal with personal problems that could affect work and your overall wellbeing. EAP services are private and confidential.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to give eligible workers up to 12 weeks of time off without pay during any 12-month period. Employees are eligible if they’ve worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately before the start of the leave.

People with cancer are protected from job discrimination or job loss by two federal laws:

  • The Federal Rehabilitation Act helps ensure equal chances for work for people with cancer and other disabilities.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that employers with 15 or more workers can't treat employees differently because they have cancer or need time off to care for a spouse with cancer. Visit for more information.

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