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November 8, 2010

Cancer in Remission is a Disability

Filed under: ADA & Disability2:56 pm

The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), which became effective on January 1, 2009, didn’t change the basic disability categories under the ADA, however it did change how “disability” could be interpreted. In Hoffman v. Carefirst of Fort Wayne, Inc., an Indiana federal court found that under those amendments an employee is considered “disabled” even if his condition is in remission at the time of an alleged adverse employment action.

The case involved an employee, diagnosed with stage 3 renal cancer a year earlier, who was told that he’d have to start working 65-70 hours/week, instead of his typical 40 hours.  Other service techs, who also delivered oxygen and other medical supplies to patients’ homes, were also required to work the extra hours.  The employee’s doctor provided a note indicating that the employee was limited to 40 hours/week.

The company offered an accommodation that would require the employee to commute (unpaid) 2-3 hours per day to another location.  The employee refused the accommodation and sued.

The court found for the employee, noting that cancer is a covered disability under the ADAAA whether it’s active or in remission.  Consequently, the employee did not need to show that he was substantially limited in a major life activity at the time of the employment action.