Jobs for people with disabilities aren’t as difficult to
find as some people believe, but even with a low unemployment rate, the
opportunity to apply for a job that fits perfectly with your lifestyle,
education, and experience can be elusive. When that great career prospect
presents itself, many people agonize over the resume, wanting to submit a portrait
of the perfect candidate. However, if you’re living with a disability, you
may be concerned about whether or not you need to disclose it when applying,
interviewing for, or starting a new job. Here’s what you should know.
Reluctance to Disclose a Disability
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures people cannot be discriminated against because of the status of their health. If you have a physical disability, it may be apparent when you show up for the interview, but you can rely on your interview skills and personality to show how perfect you are for the job. The hardest part is getting that first meeting. Many people feel they put themselves at a disadvantage if they acknowledge health issues on the resume because, even with the protections of the ADA, it may prevent the application from reaching the top of the pile.
Learn About the Employer
This is important for
many reasons. You need to find out if the company you’re applying to is a
Federal Contractor (a company that does business with the federal government).
By rule of the government, Federal Contractors need to have 6 percent of their
workforce be people with disabilities (6 percent across all job descriptions).
Applying for a job with a Federal Contractor gives a person with a disability
an advantage. Of course, the employer is always going to hire the most
qualified candidate. However, if the person with the disability is as qualified
as anyone else for the position, said employer will give him or her serious
consideration, which is why sites like ours are important. They allow you to
self-disclose as a person with a disability.
The Legal Requirements
There’s no legal requirement to disclose a disability to your employer when applying for a job, or even when you accept it. As long as you’re able to complete the requirements of the job description, it’s completely up to you what health information you share. However, until you notify your employer, they’re also under no obligation to provide the accommodation you may need to help you do your job.
Timing the Disclosure of a Disability
Know that an employer cannot ask you if you have a disability. It’s against the law to do so. However, they can present you with a form that asks you to self-identify if you belong to one of the groups below, which may include but is not limited to disabled, protected veteran, and more. The form may be presented to you at the initial interview, during the interview process, or at the job offer. You’ve read the list of job responsibilities and still feel you’re the best person for the job, otherwise you wouldn’t have applied. If you can fulfill the job requirement without special accommodation from the employer, the answer to this question is no. If your job responsibilities change after you’re hired or your health status changes, a disability can be disclosed at any time during employment. Once you’ve notified the employer, no matter how long you’ve been on the job, accommodations must be made to help you complete your duties.
Your Right to Privacy
Whether you decide to disclose your disability or not, you have a right to privacy. Even if your medical circumstances change and you need further accommodation or a leave of absence under short-term disability or FMLA, your employer isn’t allowed access to your health records without your authorization. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to provide documentation from your doctor to be eligible for these benefits, but personal information that isn’t specific to the situation is under your control.
There are many jobs for disabled people available, and there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for when searching the job listings provided by disABLEDperson, Inc. Our primary focus is helping individuals with physical and mental disabilities secure employment. Please give us a call at 760-420-1269 if you have any questions.