According to the CDC, 61 million adult Americans (or 1 in 4) have a disability. People with a disability have an unemployment rate that is twice as high as the rate for the rest of the population. It can be harder to get a job for people with disabilities. One of the biggest issues around applying for a job is deciding whether or not to disclose your disability to a potential employer. Legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 in the U.K. and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the U.S. have ensured certain protections such as protection from discrimination, reasonable accommodations, and restrictions on what employers can ask about your disability. Pre-offer employers can ask voluntary demographic information (including if you have a disability) to ensure diversity, or make limited enquires to determine if you can perform the tasks vital to the role and post-offer employers can ask medical questions (or require an examination) as long as they do for all individuals selected. However, it is generally up to the individual to decide if, when, and how much to disclose. There are both advantages and disadvantages to disclosing your disability to a potential employer.
Advantages of disclosing your disability
Disclosing a disability can be necessary to explain gaps in employment history. It also allows people to determine if the job is a good fit for them by having an honest conversation with the potential employer about if they can meet the requirements and seeing if the employer is understanding and open to providing accommodations. Finally, disclosing your disability means that then you are entitled to receive accommodations to apply, interview, or perform the job.
People with disabilities are able to receive accommodations
The law requires employers to give reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. The biggest advantage of disclosing your disability is that then you are entitled to receive accommodations to apply, interview, or perform the job.
Disclosing your disability serves as an explanation
Disclosing a disability can be necessary to serve as an explanation. People can reference their disability to explain gaps in their employment history. Disclosing a disability allows people the chance to answer any questions the employer may have and assuage any doubts about their capabilities.
Disclosing your disability will allow you to have an honest conversation with the potential employer about if you can meet the requirements. You can also see if the employer is understanding and open to providing accommodations.
Employers knowing that someone has a disability can result in discrimination. Employers may use the disability as a reason to eliminate the person from consideration. It can also mean that they are misunderstood, treated differently, left out, or passed over for promotions/raises.
People with disabilities can be discriminated against
Discrimination still occurs. This can mean that people with disabilities may not get jobs despite being qualified or may lose jobs. It can also mean that they are misunderstood, treated differently, left out, or passed over for promotions/raises.
Disclosing a disability results in employers not giving you a chance
Employers knowing that you have a disability can result in them not giving you a chance. Your disability might serve as a reason to eliminate you from consideration. It can also cause the interview to be all about your disability instead of your abilities.