Back to Work Issues: Know Your Rights

Long-Term Follow-Up

Back to Work Issues: Know Your Rights

For cancer survivors, returning to work can be a challenge. But there are many resources to back you up.


Q. Are there any federal laws that protect me as a cancer or transplant survivor when it comes to employment?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers with more than 15 employees make reasonable accommodations to help employees with disabilities do their jobs. A person with a disability is defined as: "a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment."

The Family Medical Leave Act is another federal law that may offer protection if you need to take time off work due to certain family or medical issues.

For more information on understanding your rights and other employment issues, see:

Family and Medical Leave Act 1993

Rights as a Cancer Survivor

Responding to Employment Concerns of Cancer Survivors
(Journal of Clinical Oncology)


Q. Are there state or local laws that protect my employment rights?

Some state and local governments have additional laws that provide employment protection. To learn about the laws in your area, contact the government agency for your state or city that deals with employment law. Also, see:

Federal vs. State Family and Medical Leave Laws

Labor and Employment Laws of the Fifty States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico


Q. Does the ADA specifically address bone marrow and stem cell transplantation?

The ADA does not specifically address all of the different diseases and conditions that could cause a person to be considered disabled. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published information regarding cancer and the ADA. See:

Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


Q. I'm ready to look for a new job. How do I deal with the gap in my employment that resulted from my treatment?

A resume format that lists positions in date order may make a time gap more noticeable. Using a format that focuses on skills rather than specific jobs may help. If asked about a gap between jobs, answer honestly, but remember that you are not required to give medical information about yourself during the interview process unless it relates directly to your ability to do the job.

What Should Be Done If Any One Has Gap In Employment?

Sample Resumes from job seekers who have Employment Gaps

Resume Writers' Tool Kit - Yesterday's Hero


Q. Are there organizations that can help me with employment issues after my transplant?

There are a number of good government and private organizations. Among them: