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Step-by-Step Guide to Requesting Leave for Cancer, Chemotherapy, Radiation, and Surgery in California under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

July 11, 2023

Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event. It can be overwhelming to think about how you will manage your treatment and your job at the same time. However, you are not alone. California law provides employees with certain rights to take leave for cancer treatment.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is a California law that prohibits discrimination in employment based on a person’s disability. Cancer is considered a disability under FEHA. This means that your employer cannot discriminate against you because you have cancer.

One of the rights that FEHA provides to employees with disabilities is the right to take leave for treatment. Under FEHA, employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for cancer treatment. This leave can be used for any type of cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

To request leave for cancer treatment, you will need to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can provide you with a letter stating that you need time off for cancer treatment. This letter will be helpful when you request leave from your employer.

Once you have your doctor’s letter, you will need to contact your human resources department to request leave and submit your doctor’s letter.

Your employer is not required to grant your request for leave. However, if your employer denies your request, you may have legal options. You may be able to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). You may also be able to file a lawsuit against your employer.

For more information on requesting leave for cancer treatment under FEHA, you can visit the DFEH website or contact the DFEH at (800) 884-1683.

Tips for Requesting Leave for Cancer Treatment

Here are some tips for requesting leave for cancer treatment:

Talk to your doctor early. The sooner you talk to your doctor about your treatment plan, the sooner you can start planning for your leave.

Be prepared. When you talk to your human resources department, be prepared to provide information about how much time you will need off.

Be proactive. Don’t wait for your employer to contact you about your leave. Contact your human resources department as soon as you know that you will need time off for treatment.

Be flexible. Be prepared to negotiate with your employer about the terms of your leave. For example, you may be able to work part-time or from home during your treatment.  You are entitled to reasonable accommodation such as time off or any other reasonable accommodations for your work restrictions.

Being diagnosed with cancer can be a difficult time. However, you are not alone. California law provides employees with certain rights to take leave for cancer treatment. If you need to take leave for cancer treatment, be sure to talk to your doctor and your human resources department, and document everything. With planning and preparation, you can get the treatment you need without jeopardizing your job.

If your employer denies your request for sick leave or you have any other questions or concerns about the process, it’s important to seek legal advice. An experienced employment attorney can review the facts of your case and advise you on your rights and options under California law. They can also help you gather any additional evidence and represent you in legal proceedings.

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