Living with Chronic Pain
Is It Necessary to Disclose a Disability During the Job Application Process?
In addition to various other protections for individuals with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination during the job application and hiring process. In general, any employer with 15 or more employees is required to adhere to ADA requirements.
What does the ADA consider a disability?
According to the ADA, an individual has a disability if they have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Seeing, hearing, walking, standing, lifting, reading and learning are considered “major life activities.”
The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) ensures that some impairments and medical conditions are automatically considered disabilities, including deafness, blindness, autism, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Are employers allowed to ask a potential employee if they have a disability?
Under the ADA, employers cannot ask job applicants questions regarding whether they have a disability. They also cannot subject job applicants to medical questions or a medical examination before making a job offer; however, employers can ask if an applicant is able to perform all duties in the job description and how they would perform specific duties. They can also make a job offer on a conditional basis that a potential employee successfully passes a medical examination, but only if all new employees in the same job position are required to pass the same medical examination.
Why would an individual voluntarily disclose their disability to a potential employer?
Some individuals may choose to disclose a disability at some point during the application process. They can choose to disclose this information in their application or resume, before or during an interview, before drug testing, or after a job offer is received or accepted. An individual may choose to disclose a disability for various reasons. For example, they may need accommodations to complete the application or to participate in an interview. They may also wish to discuss potential workplace accommodations prior to accepting a job offer.
If an individual chooses to disclose their disability, how should it be handled?
If an individual chooses to disclose a disability during the job application process, it is best to do so in a confidential manner and location. An individual with a disability may choose to disclose this information only to those who are in charge of procuring workplace accommodations (such as a hiring manager or direct supervisor). Individuals should clearly communicate general information about the disability, why they are disclosing the disability, how the disability would or would not affect their ability to perform job responsibilities, and if any accommodations would be needed. The potential employer should treat this information with confidentiality and respect. Employers should make hiring decisions based solely on an applicant’s skills and merits, not based on the presence or absence of disability.
Additional sources used for the creation of this article include the following: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Society for Human Resource Management, ADA National Network, and U.S. Department of Labor: Office of Disability Employment Policy