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State and federal laws exist which prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including cancers, California having one of the strongest laws in the nation. Further, federal law has recently expanded to include anti-discrimination laws based upon one's genetic history with legislation known as GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, signed into law by President George W. Bush. It is the first act of federal legislation to protect individuals from discrimination. Though imperfect, it is a start to resolve issues with insurance companies and employees which create barriers toward testing.
The basic rule is unless one actually has contracted a cancer, discrimination is prohibited by all except for life insurance companies, disability insurance carriers, long termed insurance carriers and the United States military.
There is no protection for individuals who have contracted a cancer, under GINA, however ADA laws may apply for discrimination in the workplace.
Information on current federal anti-discrimination genetic information laws.
Information on the American Disabilities Act and enforcement guidelines
Reports on Genetic Discrimination
Article on GINA
If you have questions regarding discrimination or sustain difficulties with insurance companies and coverage, there is help through the Cancer Legal Resource Center in Los Angeles.
The Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC) is a national, joint program of the Disability Rights Legal Center and Loyola Law School Los Angeles. The CLRC provides free and confidential information and resources on cancer-related legal issues to cancer survivors, caregivers, health care professionals, employers, and others coping with cancer.
A cancer diagnosis can carry with it a variety of legal issues, including insurance coverage, employment discrimination, access to health care, and estate planning. These legal issues can cause people unnecessary worry, confusion, and stress, and can be overwhelming. When these legal issues are not addressed, people may find that although they have gotten through treatment, they have lost their homes, jobs or insurance.
The CLRC has a national, toll-free Telephone Assistance Line (866-THE-CLRC) where callers can receive free and confidential information about relevant laws and resources for their particular situation. Members of the CLRC's Professional Panel of volunteer attorneys, insurance agents, and accountants can provide more in-depth information and counsel to CLRC callers.