Knowing Your Rights: Hiring Process Q & A

So you're considering a new job. You've been applying casually for a few weeks, and you land your first opportunity. You are excited to be chosen for an interview – congratulations! But now, questions begin to swirl.  Will they be accommodating to my needs? Can I envision myself thriving in this work environment?  Should I disclose my disability?

Knowing your rights and being adept to navigating conversations around your disability is crucial to finding the perfect fit.

Q1. Do I have to disclose my disability to an employer? 

No, you are not legally required to mention your disability. This includes on your resume, cover letter, application materials or during the interview.  

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces the ADA, which prevents eligible employers from discriminating against qualified job applicants and employees if they have a disability. However, the ADA only applies to state and local government employers and private employers with 15 or more employees. 

To be protected under the ADA during the hiring process you have to be able to meet the job requirements and the "essential job functions" with or without a reasonable accommodation. 

Q2. Should I disclose my disability on a Job Application?

It is completely your choice to disclose your disability. However, it is advisable to disclose your disability when you need reasonable accommodations. Weigh the pros and cons. On the positive, this will give the employer advanced notice to best accommodate your needs and provide support. Possible downsides depend on the company culture but may include stigma, loss in privacy, and emotional stress.  

Q3. What is a reasonable accommodation?

This is a change or modification to the work environment that makes it accessible. The employer is required to provide reasonable accommodation unless they can show that is is an "undue hardship," meaning there would be significant difficulty or cost to implement.

You do not have to disclose you self-identify as disabled on a job application or during an interview and can still later choose to disclose that you need a reasonable accommodation. 

Q4. If I choose to disclose my disability or have a visible disability. What can the employer ask?

Employers cannot ask "disability-related questions" or require medical examinations until they have made a conditional offer. However, if you disclose you have a disability or have a visible disability, an employer can ask for some information. 

The employer is prohibited from asking invasive questions about your disability. They should only ask questions about the accommodations you need and whether you'll be able to complete the essential job responsibilities.

If this is the case, the employer can ask whether you can complete essential job responsibilities with or without reasonable accommodations. They may ask for you to demonstrate or describe how you would accomplish these duties. Employers can't refuse to hire you if you can't complete nonessential job responsibilities.

Q5. I want to work for an employer who respects and appreciates me. How can I tell if an employer is inclusive?

Look to see if the company has a statement on accessibility and inclusion on their website or job description.  Browse their LinkedIn or Website. Do they have a visibly diverse team? You can ask questions during the interview about ongoing training and development, teamwork and collaborative projects. Employers who value your opinion, ideas and make you feel welcome during the interview process are one way to tell they're inclusive.


This article is for informational purposes only. This is not a paid promotion. The information provided is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the professional advice of an attorney regarding any legal questions you may have.

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