Rodney Warner, Esq
Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Inc.
Last Modified: September 27, 2009
I’m often asked, “Do I need to tell my employer I have cancer?” Not to sound like a lawyer, but, the answer is yes and no.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a job applicant’s health is not something that should be discussed. A prospective employer should not ask whether an applicant has a disability. A prospective employer can ask an applicant if he/she can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
If the applicant has a long gap in his/her employment history due to treatment and is asked about it, I would suggest an answer along the lines of…I had personal issues that needed to be resolved and that forced me to leave my job. Those issues have been addressed and I am ready to come back to work…It is an answer that is honest and leaves out details.
As long as it is a general policy, and not used just for a particular job candidate, an employer can give a tentative job offer conditioned on passing a medical exam. Questions during that exam must be answered honestly. Any medical information should be kept separately from a personnel file.
Management can ask about an employee’s disability when:
To learn more about the ADA and legal resources for people affected by cancer, visit the Legal Words of Wisdom section on OncoLink.