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The employment discrimination experiences of younger and older Americans with cancer under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act

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The goal of the research was to describe discrimination, both actual and perceived, that has occurred against younger individuals with cancer (i.e., 35 years of age and under) in comparison with older individuals with cancer (i.e., over age 35) through analysis of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Integrated Mission System (IMS) database.


An ex post facto, causal comparative quantitative design was used to examine Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) Title I complaints received by the EEOC from younger people with cancer from 2009 through 2016 (n = 1001) in comparison with older people with cancer over the same time period (n = 8874).


Results revealed statistically significant differences in the patterns of issues alleged by the two groups. When compared with older charging parties with cancer, the younger charging parties with cancer had proportionally more individuals who were male and who identified as African American and proportionally fewer individuals who identified as Caucasian.


Younger people with cancer were more likely to allege discrimination in the areas of promotion, training, reinstatement, and referrals to other employers. They were less likely to allege discrimination in the area of benefits. The younger group was also significantly less likely than the older group to find that EEOC investigations of their allegations resulted in merit-based case resolutions, that is, discrimination had indeed occurred.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Psychosocial programs and vocational programming assisting young adults with career development should focus on the types of discrimination that young adults experience, which is unique compared with older adult cancer survivors.

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Correspondence to David R. Strauser.

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“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”


Records were examined with permission of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) through an Interagency Personnel Agreement (IPA) and Confidentiality Agreement involving the EEOC, Dr. Brian T. McMahon, and his employer (a state university).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Strauser, D.R., Leslie, M.J., Rumrill, P. et al. The employment discrimination experiences of younger and older Americans with cancer under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. J Cancer Surviv 14, 614–623 (2020).

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