Cancer discrimination Lawyers

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Cancer Discrimination Cases

Cancer is a deemed “disability” pursuant to the Equality Act 2010 which means that employees suffering from cancer have automatic protection under the Act. If an employee who is suffering from cancer is treated less favourably for any reason which is connected to their illness, then a claim for discrimination will arise. 

Claims for discrimination are potentially more lucrative than claims for constructive, or ordinary, unfair dismissal because there is no limit on the damages that can be recovered by a successful claimant. In addition, the damages that may be recovered are determined with reference to both loss of salary without limitation and injury to feelings.

Cancer Discrimination in the Workplace

All of this means that employers would be well advised to tread very carefully when dealing with staff members who are suffering from any form of cancer. There is a strict duty to consider reasonable adjustments in relation to those members of staff which can include changes to the role itself including changes to their working hours or the nature of the role to facilitate its proper performance by the individual concerned. Employers addressing underperformance or sickness absence need to proceed with caution and it will be essential to obtain up to date medical evidence to shed light on prognosis and reasonable adjustments. This may include obtaining a current occupational health expert opinion on the prognosis for the illness and how this will impact the performance in the role. In addition, an occupational health expert opinion should be obtained on any reasonable adjustments that an employer should consider making, to facilitate the proper performance of the role.

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Cancer Discrimination Reading

Clearly, employees unfortunate enough to be suffering from an illness as serious as cancer should not be subjected to poor treatment by the employer related to this diagnosis which can only compound things for them. In this type of situation, individuals should object informally or formally to any treatment which is causing them concern. They can do so by following the company’s internal grievance procedure which is typically found in the staff handbook or intranet.  Alternatively, they can take the matter up more formally with the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) or through the employment tribunal by issuing a claim.  It is possible for employees to remain employed and issue a claim, if they believe they have bene subjected to discrimination linked to a cancer diagnosis at the employment tribunal. In this event, additional protections apply in so far as if the employer treats them differently due to the fact they have threatened or issued proceedings at the employment tribunal, this will give rise to a free-standing claim of victimisation.

Victimisation claims are a type of discrimination claim and as a result, they can also result in significant damages awards in the employment tribunals. Employees who believe they have been treated less favourably for reasons linked to a cancer diagnosis or because they have threated or brought a claim should seek legal advice on the best next steps. Free legal advice can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Bureau and Legal Advice Centres, or alternatively, speak to an employment solicitor for advice on next steps. 

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