Man in a wheelchair shaking hands with a blonde woman behind a desk

When should I inform my employer about my disability?

The first step is determining whether your employer is covered by the American’s with Disabilities Act or not.  Employers must have at least 15 employees in order to be covered by the Act.  

It would be wise to wait on disclosing a disability until a person in need of a reasonable accommodation.  If there is a need for reasonable accommodation to participate in the selection process such as interviewing and testing if required.

After an offer of employment is made and accepted, any requests for reasonable accommodations should be made if necessary to complete the essential functions of the job. The employer is allowed to request medical documentation to verify the need for a reasonable accommodation(s).

From the EEOC:

Can an Employer Require Medical Examinations or Ask Questions about a Disability?

If you are applying for a job, an employer cannot ask you if you are disabled or ask about the nature or severity of your disability. An employer can ask if you can perform the duties of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. An employer can also ask you to describe or to demonstrate how, with or without reasonable accommodation, you will perform the duties of the job.

An employer cannot require you to take a medical examination before you are offered a job. Following a job offer, an employer can condition the offer on your passing a required medical examination, but only if all entering employees for that job category have to take the examination. However, an employer cannot reject you because of information about your disability revealed by the medical examination, unless the reasons for rejection are job-related and necessary for the conduct of the employer’s business. The employer cannot refuse to hire you because of your disability if you can perform the essential functions of the job with an accommodation.

Once you have been hired and started work, your employer cannot require that you take a medical examination or ask questions about your disability unless they are related to your job and necessary for the conduct of your employer’s business. Your employer may conduct voluntary medical examinations that are part of an employee health program, and may provide medical information required by State workers’ compensation laws to the agencies that administer such laws.

The results of all medical examinations must be kept confidential, and maintained in separate medical files.

https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/requestreasonableaccommodation.aspx

https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/internal/reasonable_accommodation.cfm

https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/ada18.cfm

Curt Haney, Veteran Apprentice, Disability Advocates of Kent County

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