Thursday, October 26, 2017

When Should I Tell My Employer About My Condition?

One of the most difficult decisions I ever made was to advise my boss that I had Kennedy’s Disease. Pride, fear and the other unknowns kept me from disclosing my condition for far too long. Yet, after I told him, I discovered he was understanding and supportive of my condition and situation. Several accommodations were made that allowed me to work safely productively for several more years.

I don’t believe there is ever the “right time” to have the discussion because there are too many unknowns. But, when you begin to see possible job performance or safety issues involved, it is probably time to step up. As the article states, disclosing your condition is a matter of personal choice.

The MDA’s QuestMagazine has an article written by Karen Henry about disclosing your disability to your employer. A portion of the article is shown below. To read the entire article, click on the MDA Quest link above.

“…Talking with employers about neuromuscular disease can be challenging. Given the broad spectrum of neuromuscular diseases and their often unpredictable nature, some may find it difficult to navigate exactly when and how much to disclose. 

“The very first thing a person needs to consider is why you want to disclose,” says Sharon Rennert, senior attorney advisor at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Doing so for the right reason at the right time keeps the focus on your performance as an employee, rather than on your disability…”

“…Ultimately, disclosing information about your disability to your employer is a personal choice. Choosing not to disclose your disability might be the most appropriate choice if you are able to perform all your essential job functions without extra assistance. However, if your disability begins to impact your job performance, you could be held accountable for performance issues if you have not disclosed your disability and asked for reasonable accommodations.

“Even if you’re not quite sure what accommodations might help you, it is better to get the ball rolling,” Rennert says. “The last thing anybody wants is for there to be disciplinary action based on poor performance.”

Miller agrees. “It’s OK to let people around you know what you’re going through. It’s OK to take accommodations that are necessary for your disability…”

“…Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified employees with disabilities. They also must make reasonable accommodations employees with disabilities need to perform their jobs.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. “The types of accommodations an employer could provide are quite broad,” says Sharon Rennert, senior attorney advisor at the EEOC…”

1 comment:

  1. I received the following anonymous comment via email. This is why I liked the article's statement that disclosing is a personal choice.

    "Knowing when to disclose is difficult. In my case, on the job injuries prior to diagnosis meant immediate placement on extended medical with no opportunities for continued employment. Any job (and there were no vacancies) that could accommodate my diagnosis, paid less than disability. Part of the problem was (is) the dire and ominous wording in the literature of what can be expected for those diagnosed with KD. While there are those of us who are fully capable of standard (or modified) employment after diagnosis, there is no data base to show employers of successfully employed KDers. The language needed to raise funds for research and to support those who truly need to qualify for disability assistance does little to support those who are struggling to convince employers that their capabilities outweigh their limitations."


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