To Disclose Or Not to Disclose

One of the biggest decisions you’ll probably have to make on the job is whether or not to inform your employer about your lived experience.  It will be helpful to learn about your rights and the best way to disclose a disability to an employer.

There are many pros and cons to disclosing your disability at work. Ultimately, it’s your decision, and one worth thinking seriously about. Make sure you take a look at these resources  and begin making your decision now!  Below are some of the areas these resources cover:

  • The who, what, and when of disclosure
  • How it can lead to helpful job adjustments or accommodations
  • How on social media you can disclose your disability without realizing it
  • Questions employers CAN and CAN’T ask, and how you can respond

Let Amanda tell you how she addressed the issue of disclosure in the workplace.

This chart was developed by the Transitions RTC and is part of a larger tip-sheet on disclosure

Do you have any physical or mental impairment that would  keep you from performing the job you seek? What physical or mental impairments do you have that would affect your job performance? Are you able to perform the essential function of the job you are seeking, with or without accommodations? If you are able to perform the essential functions with accommodations, you can simply answer “Yes.” You are not required to give details about what specific accommodations you would need or why you may need them until after you are hired.
How many days were you sick during your last job? Can you meet our attendance requirements? How many days were you absent from your last job? Indicate that you are able to meet the attendance requirements of the job. If you are disclosing, you can speak about
accommodations that may be needed for hospital or therapy visits.
What medications are you currently taking? Are you currently using illegal drugs? Reply no illegal drug use and that your medications are private information.
Questions to a third party (service providers / friends / state agency) that they could not directly ask the applicant. Questions to a third party (service providers / friends / state agency) that they are legally allowed to ask the applicant directly. Tell them you can supply medical information if you are disclosing; if not, that is private information.
The employer is prohibited from asking disability-related questions or requiring a medical examination before making the individual an offer. After the employer extends an offer for the position, he may ask the individual disability-related questions or require a medical
examination as long as he does so for all entering employees in the same job category.
A question about your disability that is asked before a job offer is illegal and you can reply that it is private information and you are not comfortable answering that question.
*This tip sheet was developed and reviewed  with input from young adults with serious mental health conditions, many of whom were or are members of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health youth councils.