Cancer and the Equality Act 2010

Hi all,


I’ll try and keep this brief. I was diagnosed with IDC in January 2012 aged 43, I had WLE, ANC, 6 x FEC and 20 x radiotherapy, I worked through the majority of treatment but did take time off work just before my last chemo and during radiotherapy with some recovery time afterwards. I returned to work on a phased return over a period of 6 weeks. Everything was fine until a couple of months later when a new General Manager was appointed, I very quickly found myself in the redeployee pool with my job being given to someone else. As you can imagine I was more than suspicious and despite trying to resolve informally and formally through the company grievance procedure, got nowhere, I am now going through an Employment Tribunal for disability discrimination. My question is I understood the Equality Act stated that if you have or have had cancer you are protected by the Act so as not to be disadvantaged, however, my employers legal team are trying to say that at that moment in time, I no longer had cancer and therefore I am not covered by the Act. My oncologist has provided 2 medical reports which they are saying are flimsy as they do not state that I had cancer at material times and that my treatment (Tamoxifen) is to prevent a recurrence and therefore I don’t have cancer. I do have my union representing me but I can’t understand how they can insist I must have had cancer at material times in order to be covered by the Act. Does anybody know anything about this?

So sorry for such a long post.


Many thanks


Lydia x


Hi Lydia
Poor you! It sounds as if you are being treated pretty badly by your employer.
It’s my understanding that once you have had cancer, you are covered by the Act. It might be worth contacting Macmillan for advice, as I believe they offer support on this kind of issue.
I’m no legal expert but I think you certainly have a good case to fight here.
You have had cancer and are now receiving treatment. End of. No need to quibble about dates.
I wish you all the best with this and hope you get the right kind of advice to see things through in your favour.
Scbgirl xx

Hi Chascat

What a coincidence to read your post, as I was only talking to someone at our local cancer support centre about this very subject today. Fortunately, I’m not having hassle at work (just gone back following WLE & rads for DCIS)  - but I’ve been reading up on my rights at work as I may be looking at reducing my hours at some time in the future. Anyway - have you seen a copy of BCCs ‘Moving Forward’ pack?   On page 99 theres a chapter on ‘Working after breast cancer’ and a paragraph on ‘Your rights at work’.  It states:

“For the purposes of the (Equality) Act 2010, anyone who has or has had cancer is classed as disabled…”  And on page 100 - paragraph 2 - " If you are being or have been treated for breast cancer, the Equality Act protects you against any discrimination relating to employment…"     Its good that you have the support of your Union, but I too would suggest you contact MacMillan for specialist advice on your rights, in case its an area your union rep isn’t over familiar with. 

I’m just sorry you are having this fight on your hands - none of us need it - but please challenge your employers on this and get all the help you need.   Will have my fingers crossed and hope you will come back with how things are going.

Take care x

Well I have just read your problem and this is disgusting.


are your employers saying that the moment the cancer is removed you are no longer covered by the disability legislation.  This is a very important legal issue and I am sure someone out there can help.

keep fighting and posting what you discover. 

We may have to start a name and shame campain for all those employers out there who are treating people in this way. There are too many people who are having problems with employers but yours is the worse.


just offering a little support.



I have just won an Employment Tribunal on the grounds of disability. I have two health conditions covered by the Equality Act/Disability Discrimination Act.One of which is cancer

The key term is “Disability Arising”. ie you do not need to be unwell at the moment but an employer is treating you detrimentally in case you become ill as a result of your disability.

I would hope that if your union is supporting you they should know this, but my union were rubbish. They told me that because I was well I would not be able to prove Iwas disabled. I represented myself at the Tribunal against an employer that appointed an international law firm and had counsel representing them on the day.

I not only won but was awarded £8000 compensation. 

I hope that helps please feel free to ask me about any more specific questions about the Employment Tribunal