Cancer In Remission Is a Protected Disability Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

Cancer in remission was ruled to be a protected disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in a recent federal district court decision from Indiana, Hoffman v. Carefirst of Fort Wayne, Inc.  It is an illustration of the expanded protections that the ADA has following the 2008 amendments.

The employee, Sam Hoffman, had surgery for stage III renal cancer and his employer subsequently demanded that he increase his work hours from 40 to 65-70 per week. In response, Hoffman produced a doctor's note stating that he should be limited to a 40 hour work week because of his cancer, although it was then in remission. The company rejected this request for a reasonable accommodation and instead offered him a different job that included a 2-3 hour commute. As a result, Hoffman was no longer able to continue working and later filed suit, claiming that the company had violated the ADA.

The key issue was whether Hoffman was suffering from a "disability" covered by the ADA, given that his cancer was in remission. The court ruled that Hoffman's cancer even in remission was a "disability" covered by the ADA. Notwithstanding the employer's arguments to the contrary, the court found the answer to be straightforward and drawn directly from the ADA's language specifying that "an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active."

The 2008 amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act, which became effective January 1, 2009, expanded the protective scope of the ADA, recognizing the realities faced by working Americans that have a disability and enhanced protections for them under the ADA.

If you have been discriminated work because of a disability, because you are perceived to have a disability, or because you have a record of having a disability, contact Lexington, Kentucky disability discrimination and rights lawyer Robert Abell at 859 – 254 – 7076.