Do I Have To Tell My Employer I Have Cancer?

Last Modified: May 7, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Do I have to tell my employer I have cancer?


Rodney N. Warner, Staff Attorney at The Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Staff Attorney at The Legal Clinic for the Disabled, responds:

This shouldn’t be a topic of discussion during an interview. The employer can ask if you can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation. If you ask for a leave under ADA or FMLA, you’d have to disclose why. That medical information should be kept separate from your personnel file. An employer can also ask that you take an independent medical exam prior to starting a job (if all job candidates have to do the same) and you’d have to answer questions honestly. If your job performance takes a drastic turn for the worse, and employer can inquire to see if it’s health related. See: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for more information.

A great resource for work related issues is Cancer and Careers.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, Legal & Financial Challenges Facing People with Cancer. View the entire transcript here.