Family and Medical Leave Act and related state laws), but some employers provide benefits that exceed those mandated.
Many employers in the private and public sectors have formal or informal disability management and return-to-work programs (Bruyere, 2000). EAPs address productivity issues by helping employees identify and resolve personal concerns that may affect job performance, including issues related to health, marriage, family, substance abuse, stress, and legal problems (Employee Assistance Professionals Organization, 2004). EAPs may provide one-on-one assistance, employee training programs, and leadership consultations. An estimated 56 percent of companies with more than 100 employees provide EAPs that address work-life issues (FWI, 1998; Center on an Aging Society, 2004). In an effort to increase the availability of psychosocial support for cancer patients, the Individual Cancer Assistance Network project (funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation) has trained master’s-level counselors in EAPs and family service organizations located in Florida (Bristol-Myers Squibb, 2004; Alter, 2005).
It is important to note that employers cannot search records and then initiate contact with employees based on their health status, no matter how commendable their intentions (Lee, 2004). Such contact is prohibited by HIPAA.
Cancer voluntary organizations and consumer advocacy programs Several nonprofit cancer organizations provide education, counseling, and legal advice regarding employment to cancer survivors. The American Cancer Society (ACS) (2004a), the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF, 2004), the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) (Hoffman, 2004a), and CancerCare (CancerCare, 2005), for example, provide information about employment concerns following a diagnosis of cancer.
A number of programs provide legal assistance to cancer survivors concerned about their employment and insurance rights (Box 6-7). For example, legal counseling and education and training for professionals and individuals with cancer are available through the Cancer Legal Resource Center, Western Law Center for Disability Rights. Supported in part by the California Division of ACS, callers to the ACS information line with legal questions are referred to the Center. In 2004 the Center served more than 3,000 callers and reached about 6,000 people through training and outreach. Approximately 13 percent of calls relate to employment, concerns about telling a new employer about cancer, expectations when going back to work, disclosure of cancer history when returning to work, and loss of a job (Schwerin, 2005). The Center serves individuals nationwide, and about half the people calling for assistance are from outside California.
CancerCare is a national nonprofit organization that provides free counseling (individual and group), education, information and referral, and