Questions and Answers about Disability Disclosure
Some disabilities are clearly visible, while others are not. Regardless of your disability status, volunteering this information during the job search process is up to you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines the types of questions an employer can ask during the interview and pre-offer stage, and these are mainly limited to if you can perform the job or any accommodations you may require. Here are some responses you may want to consider if this line of questioning does arise during an interview.
Questions about your disability or health are considered illegal by the ADA; however, if you have voluntarily disclosed disability information – or your disability is visible - questions of this nature may arise. You should:
- Focus on your abilities to perform the job; outlining your performance in a positive way
- Provide examples of past performance
- Provide references of past employers who can outline your work-related abilities
- Recognize that unless you volunteer this information, an employer cannot delve into disability issues and/or discriminate against you because of your disability
When it comes to an employer delving into your medical history or general health, again, this is prohibited by the law. Your decision to discuss a disability – or the nature of your particular disability – may force this conversation. You should:
- Focus minimal attention on you disability - and your general health - and provide ample information on your ability to perform the job in which you are interviewing
- Discuss any accommodations you may require, providing the employer with an outline of the equipment or technology you may need to accommodate your specific disability
- If necessary, physically demonstrate your ability to perform the job
- Stress that you are able to meet the employer’s attendance requirements, with minimal disruption
Remember an employer can ask limited questions pertaining to a disability, specifically if they need to make adjustments to accommodate you or if you can perform essential parts of a job. They cannot ask about your history with worker’s compensation, questions about medications you take or anything of this nature.
If an employer does broach questions above and beyond this, and you have not volunteered this information, you can choose to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state agency.