Job applicants and disclosure of disability
Most of what we write about on this blog concerns workplace accidents and workers’ compensation. These are important issues for those who are injured while working and need to know their options for compensation and recovery. But what about those who start out a job with an injury already? Most of us know that there are certain protections for disabled workers, but it would be good to briefly spell out the issue.
Prior to actually offering a job to an applicant, an employer is not able to ask about disabilities. To do so would be illegal, and most employers are well aware of this, though violations do happen. When an employer makes a conditional job offer, things shift a bit.
Upon making an initial job offer, there are still limits on what an employer can ask regarding disability, but fewer. First of all, an employer is allowed to ask whether the applicant can perform work tasks without accommodations, whether the applicant would be regularly missing work, and how an applicant would go about performing a job. All of this is acceptable, provided it doesn’t lead to more, such as questions about medical issues or requirements for medical examinations prior to a job offer.
Once an offer is made, the employer may then inquire about necessary accommodations. They are actually required to provide such accommodations unless doing so would be an “undue hardship.” Applicants should watch out whenever an employer withdraws an offer after finding out about disability-related needs.
Source: AOL Jobs, “Do I Have To Disclose My Medical Condition To A Potential Employer?,” Donna Ballman, February 11, 2014.