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Study shows cancer survivors receive fewer job callbacks

Maryland residents may dismayed to learn that job applicants are less likely to receive a callback from potential employers if they disclose that they are cancer survivors, according to a new study by researchers at Rice University and Penn State University. The authors of the study say their findings are proof that people with past illnesses and chronic conditions still face hiring discrimination despite being protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For the study, which was published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Applied Psychology, undercover researchers applied for retail jobs at three metropolitan shopping malls in a southern region of the U.S. One group of applicants, who were all in their 20s, mentioned that they were cancer survivors on their resumes and wore a "cancer survivor" shirt or hat on job interviews. Meanwhile, a control group of similarly aged applicants made no mention of cancer on their resumes or on job interviews.

Researchers found that 21 percent of study participants who claimed to be cancer survivors received callbacks. However, almost 37 percent of those who supposedly had no history of cancer received callbacks, which is statistically significant. The authors of the study said that no hiring laws were necessarily broken by the targeted employers, but their findings indicate that employer diversity programs need to be updated to include training on disability discrimination.

Maryland employees or job applicants who suspect that they have been subjected to health-related discrimination may want to speak with an employment law attorney. In some cases, filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the applicable state agency could be an advisable remedy.

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