How To Disclose A Disability To Your Employer
If you, like thousands of others, live with a visible or invisible disability, heres what you need to know if you want to tell your employer.
The invisible nature of my chronic illness protects me from a whole universe of discrimination and microaggressions, but it also insulates me from potential support.
Of course, I acknowledge that my position is a privileged one. Some disabilities announce themselves as soon as a job candidate enters an interview room, along with all of the misconceptions society places on anyone with any degree of difference. I wondered what wed have to do to help people come out of it empowered and employed.
The issue is as complicated as people are. As with all forms of discrimination, theres a world between what the law says and how we relate to one another thats murky and difficult to navigate, even for legal professionals, disability-rights advocates and those long-practiced in explaining themselves to a world not built for them. But there are ways to make it easier, and difficult truths everyone should know.
Potential Downsides Of Telling The Employer
Here are some common concerns and ways to address them:
Myths about learning and thinking differences: An employee may worry that the employer believes some common myths about learning and thinking differences. For example, people may worry that the boss will confuse their challenges with intellectual disabilities. When disclosing a disability, its a good idea to mention past successes and strategies that have worked in school and other places. Employees may also want to bring up some common misunderstandings or consider giving the employer a handout on myths and facts about learning and thinking differences.
Confidentiality issues: People may worry that if they disclose a disability to their employer, word will get out and all of their co-workers will know about it. Human resources officers know that information about a workers disabilities must remain private and that employers can get in trouble for breaking that rule. Unless the employee shares the information with co-workers, its unlikely that theyll hear about it.
Concerns about being given less responsibility: Employees may worry that they wont be trusted to take on important projects if they tell their boss about a disability. They may also be concerned that disclosing a disability could lead to being passed over for a promotion or a raise. Learn about disability inclusion in the workplace and how anti-discrimination laws are designed to prevent employers from doing these kinds of things.
Should You Tell Your Boss About Your Disability
The mental illness stigma paints individuals with mental illnesses as dangerous and violent. If you are debating whether or not to disclose your condition to your employer, consider the following question: has your condition impacted your ability to do your job or do you expect it to impact your ability to do your job? The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to give employees with mental illnesses a reasonable accommodation. If your condition requires accommodations in order for you to perform your job duties optimally, it is a good idea to disclose your condition to your employer. If you have determined that your condition may impact your ability to adequately perform your job, it is also important to consider how you will disclose your condition to your employer or potential employer. If you get indications during the interview or while on the job that the employer is not inclusive and would not be receptive to the disclosure of mental illness, you may want to rethink disclosure. Another important consideration to make is whether you want to reveal details about your condition or whether you would rather request accommodations that are needed while being as vague as possible about your condition. Some mental illnesses are more stigmatized than others, so this is an important factor to assess and is contingent on your specific condition.
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Disclosure For Existing Workers
Workers may develop a disability while they are employed. They may choose to disclose their disability because they realize that they will need accommodations to continue performing job functions. Other workers may disclose pre-existing disabilities that have become more profound or may disclose if they have been assigned new job responsibilities. Workers may know what accommodations will be most helpful for them. However, they may not know that accommodations are possible because they do not have experience with disability. Disability-specific organizations can provide workers and employers with helpful information and recommend possible accommodations.
Employers can create a supportive atmosphere that encourages disclosure of disability by respecting the diversity of all workers and spreading awareness through their companies that they will happily accommodate.
Does The Employer Have A Disability
As always, researching a company can be helpful. In this case, you’ll want to check to see whether the company has a record of supporting employees with disabilities or not. Some signs of a disability-friendly company: photos and language on the website that welcome or acknowledge people with disabilities, and evidence of connections with disability groups.
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Hiding Your Disability Takes A Toll
Trying to hide your symptoms takes a lot of energy. This is physically/mentally draining. It is a waste of energy that could be better spent doing a great job at work.
On your performance
You dont want your performance to suffer because of your disability. An employer does not have to rescind discipline decisions based on poor performance if the employee then discloses that this is because of a disability. You need to preemptively work with the company and request accommodations to help you succeed and avoid any performance problems.
Avoiding disclosing your disability also can lead to awkward conversations as you skirt around questions so that you dont have to bring up your disability.
So far, in my professional life, I have tried not to mention my illness , leading to stilted conversations. Trying to come up with a reason for why I am not looking for full-time employment at the moment without saying that I have a chronic illness and right now part-time work is all that I can handle. has been frustrating and honestly unnecessary. This answer would sound better than what I have been saying.
Explaining the impact of your disability can help the potential employer understand communication difficulties. It is better that employers know the reason behind these issues then immediately disregard you because of them.
On allowing a potential employer to understand your experience
More Questions And Answers About The Ada
Q. Is an employer required to provide reasonable accommodation when I apply for a job?
A. Yes. Applicants, as well as employees, are entitled to reasonable accommodation. For example, an employer may be required to provide a sign language interpreter during a job interview for an applicant who is deaf or hearing impaired, unless to do so would impose an undue hardship.
Q. Should I tell my employer that I have a disability?
A. If you think you will need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions, you should inform the employer that an accommodation will be needed. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation only for the physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability of which they are aware. Generally, it is the responsibility of the employee to inform the employer that an accommodation is needed.
Q. Do I have to pay for a needed reasonable accommodation?
A. No. The ADA requires that the employer provide the accommodation unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. If the cost of providing the needed accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employee must be given the choice of providing the accommodation or paying for the portion of the accommodation that causes the undue hardship.
Q. Can an employer offer a health insurance policy that excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions?
Department of Justice
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Supportive And Supported Employee Resource Groups
The best disability employee resource groups are those that foster open dialogue and networking not only among their own members but also with members of other ERGs. When a company fosters a range of such groups and offers its support , persons with disabilities benefit.
These groups provide their members a safe space to learn, grow, and share experiences. Its no wonder that organizations with this factor in place are seeing employee career aspirations that are, on average, 21% higher than in other organizations and confidence levels that are 34% higher. Employees with disabilities are 26% more likely to disclose their disability to others in companies with active ERGs.
Ultimately, I fully disclosed my disability at work through an internal blog in the fall of 2018 I did the same externally through another blog in 2019. At that point, colleagues with disabilities began confiding in me, testing the waters as a prelude to their own disclosures. My engagement improved, and my desire to accomplish more increased as did my ability to follow through on those new, higher aspirations. My anxieties lessened while my confidence and sense of belonging grew.
My employer helped me become a stronger employee when I felt comfortable enough to disclose my disability. Your organization can do the same for the members of its workforce who are on a similar journey.
Notice Concerning The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act Of 2008
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. This booklet explains the part of the ADA that prohibits job discrimination. This part of the law is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and State and local civil rights enforcement agencies that work with the Commission.
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To Request Reasonable Accommodations
Job applicants and employees alike may request reasonable accommodations in connection with disclosing a disability. For example, an applicant who is deaf might request a sist a sign language interpreter during a job interview. Other examples of accommodation requests might include the ability to work from home, altered work schedules , a quiet work environment or headphones to cut out distractions, and changes in supervisory methods .
Disclosing Disability To An Employer: Why To When To How To
herc March 14, 2017 Faculty Career Advice
The Americans with Disabilities Act , enacted on July 26, 1990, is legislation purposed to improve the lives of people with disabilities by protecting their rights to have access to employment, public entities, transportation, public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications and more. It helps people with disabilities compete equally for employment and receive the accommodations and protection they need to work.
Are you in need of accommodations in the workplace due to a disability? Do you know what steps to take in order to get the process started? Disclosure is the first and sometimes the most difficult step. Just thinking about this can often cause anxiety and stress. So what exactly is disclosure?
Lets look at three reasons why someone may choose to disclose a disability to their employer:
1. To ask for job accommodations
Tina is an activities director at an assisted living facility, required to log notes into a binder for all of the activities and residents who participate. Because of a brain injury, Tina struggles to hand write notes. She requests speech-to-text software that enables her to dictate her notes. She is then able to print them out and place them in the binder.
2. To receive benefits or privileges of employment
3. To explain an unusual circumstance
Thinking about your next career move?
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Disclosure Of Disability In The Workplace
Disclosure of disability in the workplace is the process in which workers reveal their disabilities to employers. Disclosure of disability can be daunting for workers and the people they disclose to.
In this article, we explore:
- Why workers might choose or not choose to disclose
- How they might do so
- What employers responsibilities are after disclosure of disability
- How employers can create a work environment encouraging disclosure of disability
Job Supports And Accommodations
It is your right to choose whether or not you disclose your disability. Disclosing your disability means you are telling your employer or potential employer that you have a disability. Your employer does not have the right to ask you about your disability during the hiring process before a job offer is made. Even after a job offer, there are legal limits about when and what an employer can ask about disability.
Whether to voluntarily disclose your disability or not is based on your personal needs, preferences, and comfort level with your disability. It is wise to carefully consider disclosing your disability when you apply for a job, start a new job, become disabled, or become aware that the nature of your disability is changing.
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To Explain An Unusual Circumstance
Someone with an invisible disability like Crohns disease, for example, may prefer to never tell their colleagues about it, but it can become necessary to explain frequent trips to the bathroom during team meetings or a hospital stay every few years. If you are only seeking understanding as opposed to accommodations, it can be as simple as privately telling your supervisor about the difficulties you encounter due to your medical condition. You dont even need to mention the ADA or go into specifics about your symptoms.
Keeping a disability a secret can also be taxing on your mental resources, which can affect your energy and productivity. To ease this burden, some people choose to disclose to their close friends at work, or after theyve built a rapport with their supervisor. If you dont want the entire office to know about your disability, ask those you do tell to keep the information private.
The benefits employers get from making workplace accommodations for disabled employees can outweigh the costs, according to research by the Job Accommodation Network, a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor. The study found that accommodations resulted in benefits like retaining valuable employees, improved productivity and employee morale, a reduction in workers compensation risks and costs, and an improvement in company diversity. Most accommodations cost these employers little to nothing.
When Should You Disclose A Disability
There isnt a right time to disclose a disability. For some people with a visible disability, or those who require accommodation during the application process, there is no option but to discuss their disability early in the process.
If you have an invisible disability and dont require accommodations at the moment, there are other options.
It might feel like the most honest decision is to share the fact of your disability before beginning a new job. However, there are pros and cons to consider before taking this course of action.
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Tools For Finding Employment: Disclosing A Visual Impairment
Whenif everto disclose your disability to a potential or current employer is one of the most difficult issues people with visual impairments and disabilities deal with during the employment process. Its also one of the most frequently debated issuesif you ask three people who have disabilities about disclosure, you will get three distinctly different points of view on this topic. Disclosure decisions might be easier for a person with a more obvious physical disability, but for people with low vision, or less-apparent disabilities, disclosure can present a challenge. Its important to put some careful thought into disclosure so that you understand your options and their potential consequences, both positive and negative.
Disclosing Is A Personal Decision
Years of dealing with sidelong looks, societal stigma, withdrawal, and disbelief may have left their mark. No matter how many times we read that it’s fine to have a non-visible disability, that we are legally protected in the workplace, and that it’s fine to disclose our disability to an employer , deep inside, it can be hard to reconcile your experiences and beliefs with what you hear.
Not telling an employer straight off in an interview that you have a disability may feel dishonest. On the other hand, you may be concerned that if they really knew who you are – a person with a disability – they wouldn’t want you and that as soon as they find out, they really won’t want you. But if you tell them up front that you have a disability, then if they don’t invite you in for an interview, or offer you the job, you wonder, “Was it because I told them?” It’s easy to feel caught between a rock and a hard place. What to do?
The answer: You have to decide. Disclosing is a personal decision, just like everything else in the job search process. It is a decision that you have to make, and because your disability is yours, only you really know the answer to how you will disclose. You are not under any obligation to do so.
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Disclosing Your Disability To An Employer: Advantages And Disadvantages
Like many people, once I got closer to graduating from college, I started thinking about getting a job. One of my biggest concerns has been whether to disclose my illness to an employer. This is not an easy question, and there is no one answer that works for everyone.
I have asked career advisors, vocational rehabilitation workers, people who hire workers, and others with illnesses/disabilities about their experiences and recommendations. I have also researched this topic on my own.
Here is what I have learned about disclosing your disability to an employer.
According to the CDC, 61 million adult Americans have a disability. The U.S. Bureau of Labor has reported that people with a disability have an unemployment rate twice as high as the rest of the population. This means that, unfortunately, it can be harder for us to get a job.
One of the biggest issues around applying for a job is deciding whether or not to disclose your disability to a potential employer. Legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act has ensured protection from discrimination, reasonable accommodations, and restrictions on what employers can ask about your disability. Yet, we all know discrimination still happens.