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Woman sues hospital for wrongful termination over cancer leave

A Southern California woman claims she was fired from her job at a hospital after taking leave for cancer treatments. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees, finding after a three-year investigation that there is reasonable cause to believe the woman was fired in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The woman is now suing the hospital for cancer discrimination.

The woman began working for the hospital, located in Virginia, in 2006. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and took leave for a mastectomy and chemotherapy. She says she was demoted after returning to work. She took leave again in 2009 for a second mastectomy. The day before she was due back to work, her supervisor called and fired her, saying she had not completed the necessary paperwork to take leave and had run out of sick days.

Complaints of disability discrimination like this one are on the rise. In 2005, the EEOC received 14,893 such complaints. That number had increased to 25,742 by 2011. The EEOC finds reasonable cause in less than 5 percent of all cases investigated. To prevail on a claim of disability discrimination, a claimant must show he or she was subject to adverse employment action on the basis of disability or that the employer failed to make reasonable accommodation for a disability.

Someone who is denied needed leave for medical treatment, is fired or disciplined after returning from leave, or is denied a requested accommodation for a disability may have a claim for disability discrimination. A workplace discrimination attorney may help by evaluating the situation and determining whether a viable claim exists.

Source: The Washington Post, "Former hospital employee says she was fired after taking sick leave," Catherine Ho, Jan. 13, 2013

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