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Hiring biases and cancer survivors

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against employees or potential employees based on medical conditions, New York cancer survivors seeking work might wonder about how their medical history will be viewed by prospective employers. A 2015 study conducted in the southern part of the nation may provide a clue. Although the study did not identify the violation of any actual laws, a significant bias toward cancer survivors was observed in the retail industry.

Part of the study in question involved five individuals posing as applicants for retail jobs at three major shopping malls. The two men and three women completed applications at 121 retail establishments with only one application from the group per establishment. The parties were randomly directed to provide information about a history of cancer or to omit such medical information. Resumes were truthful in terms of the work experience described. However, the participants coordinated to ensure that nobody appeared to be overqualified and so that the resumes were similar to each other in terms of experience level, formatting, and length.

According to the research team, approximately 37 percent of applications lacking medical information resulted in callback requests. In comparison, only 21 percent of cancer-related applications received callback requests. The researchers noted that this was a significant difference that may highlight the potential negative perception of a history of cancer for those seeking jobs. According to researchers, the nation's emphasis on diversity in the workplace may need to be extended to those with disabilities, especially those who have suffered a disease such as cancer.

People who believe that they may be affected by workplace discrimination because of their experience with a serious disease may find it helpful to discuss the situation with a lawyer. If issues are identified that constitute a violation of a client's rights as a disabled employee, the lawyer might offer assistance in filing a complaint or otherwise seeking an improvement in the situation.

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