Disability-inclusive employment, cancer survivorship, and the Americans with Disabilities Act

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Abstract

Purpose: This special section of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship examines disability-inclusive employment policy and practice, cancer survivorship, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) of 1990. It considers current issues in research, policy, practice, and law in the United States, including new questions arising in light of COVID-19, such as the nature of disability disclosure, workplace accommodations and remote work, emerging workplace health surveillance technologies, and inclusive employment practices for cancer survivors. It also presents, for comparative purposes, a current analysis of cancer-related disability discrimination in the media in the United States and Israel. Methods: After the “Introduction,” this special section presents two studies on disclosure of disability in employment: the first addressing disclosure during a job interview of the need for accommodations, and the second addressing disclosure as related to individual and organizational characteristics. The next two articles examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work experience: first, for people with disabilities working remotely, with implications for cancer survivors, and second, for cancer survivors and people with disabilities facing potential algorithmic health discrimination due to workplace health surveillance. The final article considers cancer-related stigma and discrimination, as faced in the United States and Israel (using a comparison of mass media). Results: Disability-inclusive employment laws such as the ADA promote two central requirements: First, social institutions affirmatively remove attitudinal and structural barriers and discrimination confronting people with disabilities as they exercise their rights to participate fully in society. Second, employers, governmental entities, and public accommodations comply with the “accommodation principle,” which requires them to make reasonable adjustments to job tasks, places of work, and public places in society, to enable equal participation by qualified individuals with disabilities. The articles in this special section consider these principles in innovative ways from a disability-inclusive paradigm. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a robust research literature on disability-inclusive employment policy and practice for people with disabilities and for cancer survivors. This special section offers five articles as a start. The section’s “Introduction” also highlights recent ADA case law and introduces two new national Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, one on Disability Inclusive Employment Policy (“DIEP RRTC”) and one on Employer Practices Leading to Successful Employment Outcomes Among People with Disabilities (“Employer Practices RRTC”), both designed to help fill this need. The centers are currently examining ways organizations, including those in the gig economy, can facilitate inclusive employment of people with disabilities. Implications for Cancer Survivors: As highlighted in the Introduction’s discussion of recent ADA cases involving cancer-related employment discrimination, as well as in the special section’s articles, discrimination in employment persists and, indeed, is worsening for cancer survivors and those with disabilities. This discrimination affects people across the demographic spectrum, and it can be especially harmful to people in groups not always acknowledged, such as individuals with multiple, intersectional minority identities associated with race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as people at different stages of the life course. Furthermore, the impact of discrimination in employment is often exacerbated by life experiences such as unemployment and underemployment, financial insecurity, ableism, racism, and sexism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Accommodations
  • COVID-19
  • Cancer
  • Disability employment
  • Discrimination
  • Invisible disabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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