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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When My Employer Won’t Allow Extended Leave for Medical Treatments

This Article updates the Thursday, October 12, 2017, post, “Employer Breast Cancer Discrimination Because I Am Female?” which described the case of a corporate executive, a female who was head of original programming for a major cable television network, who was fired while on medical leave for breast cancer.

Sometimes an employer illegally discriminates against a woman with breast cancer because of a bias against women in addition to disability discrimination. One of the more common forms of discrimination against a female worker with breast cancer is when the employer will not allow an extended FMLA leave or another type of accommodation that the employer routinely gives to male employees with cancer.

This type of double whammy dose of discrimination against women with breast cancer or other types of female-related illnesses, occurs in all types of employment, from blue collar to high income executive positions. Female employees treating for cancer may be denied equal employment opportunities that are afforded to similarly situated male employees, including development and promotions.

This former high-end female executive filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and more. In her complaint that she filed in Federal Court in California, she alleged that after she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, she continued to work until February 2017, when she began medical leave. She alleged that after she was diagnosed with a second, more severe type of breast cancer that required her to take a longer leave, the company questioned the validity of her diagnosis, suggested she was faking it, and prevented members of her team from contacting her. Her former employer denied her allegations.

This lawsuit was settled three weeks ago with no admission of wrongdoing or liability by the employer. One of the Defendants thereafter issued a positive public statement about her.

Disabled female workers are correct in assuming that there may be a double bias against them, one for being disabled and another for being female, if their employer refuses them the same type of accommodations for their disability that the employer allows for disabled male employees.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits disability discrimination against women with cancer. Both the NJLAD and the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, such as a modified work schedule or unpaid leave, unless doing so would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer. For women in New Jersey who have cancer, or for any disabled employee who believes their employer violated their rights because they are disabled, or perceived to be disabled, they can file a lawsuit directly in state court under the NJLAD. New Jersey plaintiffs do not have to go through the longer administrative process required by the ADA before they are allowed to file a disability discrimination lawsuit. As a result, if you live in New Jersey, you do not have to exhaust the more time consuming administrative process required if you file under the ADA, as some other states require. If you live in New Jersey, you can file a lawsuit for disability discrimination against your employer directly in state court by filing under the NJLAD

What Can I Do If My Boss Does Not Allow an Extended Leave for Medical Treatments?

If your employer will not give you an accommodation of an FMLA extended leave for medical treatments, or you think your employer is not covered under the FMLA and you need time off because you have a disability or serious health conditions that prevents you from working for temporary periods, you should contact an attorney experienced in employment law to explore your legal options in the safest way for you.

What You Can Do.

If you believe you are being discriminated at work because of a disability, or you are a female and your employer denies an extended leave that the employer routinely gives to male employees with cancer, or the employer fails to provide a reasonable accommodation to you (be you a male or a female) to allow you to remain employed, it is important for you to consult with an experienced employment law attorney. I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in representing private and public employees with cancer and other disabilities.

If you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace discrimination, please contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.

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