Termination, Cancer, and Disability
Question: My employer is not allowing a coworker to extend his contract because he has cancer. They told him this is the reason they don’t want him to work for them anymore. Is this illegal discrimination?
Answer: The only act protecting against discrimination is one based on disability, so he would only qualify as protected under that act if his cancer was so severe as to interfere with his ability to live and work.
Under the labor law, if he has been there two years or less (not two years plus one day or more) then when his contract is over, it is simply over. If longer, he cannot be dismissed unless his work is inadequate. If his work is inadequate due to illness that was not caused by work, he can be dismissed.
However, if he is here on an employment visa, employers often tell immigration the contract is not renewed, which terminates the visa and makes employment illegal (and the employer is then justified in not rehiring him).
The problem for him, besides the visa issue, is that if his cancer is severe enough to protect him from discrimination, it is probably severe enough that the employer is justified under labor law for firing him. Effectively he could collect damages based on, at most, one law but not the other (neither if he is under two years and not suffering severely) but in both cases the most likely remedy is a small monetary payment, not reinstatement. So if he is concerned with visa or health insurance issues, he should be looking for another job.
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