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Study finds cancer survivors receive fewer job callbacks

According to a study, job applicants in California and nationwide are less likely to receive callbacks if they are known cancer survivors. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association.

Researchers from Rice University and Penn State University had undercover study participants, who ranged in age from 21 to 29, apply for retailing jobs at three metropolitan shopping malls located in a southern area of the United States. One group of applicants did not mention their medical histories on their resumes, but a second group of applicants mentioned they were cancer survivors on their resumes and wore "cancer survivor" gear during in-person job interviews.

Researchers found that applicants who claimed to be cancer survivors received fewer callbacks from managers than applicants who supposedly had no history of cancer. Only 21 percent of those in the cancer survivor group received callbacks. Meanwhile, nearly 37 percent of those in the non-cancer group received callbacks.

According to the authors of the study, their findings show that people with past or chronic illnesses still face subtle employment discrimination even though they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Researchers stressed that employers broke no hiring laws but showed evidence of subtle discrimination. To combat this, they said that diversity programs need to be modified to include training on health characteristics.

California workers who feel they have faced employment discrimination due to their health status may want to discuss their situation with a lawyer. After reviewing the available evidence, legal counsel may recommend filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the appropriate state agency.

Medical Xpress, "Cancer survivors less likely to receive callbacks from potential employers," Nov. 6, 2015

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