Disclosing disability to the current or potential employer is a highly personal decision, which might have far-reaching consequences to both parties (employer and employee) (Von Schrader, Malzer, & Bruyere, 2014). Disclosure can be an avenue that employees use to get accorded sufficient workplace accommodations, and can be a means that employers use to diversify their workforce as expressed by Bonaccio, Connelly, Gellatly, Jetha, and Ginis (2019). On the other hand, the same disclosure can attract a hoard of negative consequences; for instance, lower expectations, isolation, and being a target for termination. In as much as employees are encouraged to disclose their disabilities – if any – the ultimate decision should be theirs. As noted by Von Schrader, Malzer, and Bruyere (2014), there are many barriers that exist and they make disclosure very hard for employees.
The U.S. Constitution protects employees from negative consequences, an aspect that escalates the issue of discrimination on the basis of disability to the corridors of justice. On this note, I would encourage disclosure. Some forms of disability cannot be hidden while others are invincible as described by Santuzzi, Waltz, Finkelstein, and Rupp (2014). Even for those that are not very easy to identify, a disclosure is necessary to ensure that employers make decisions with full information. It is better for the employee to be admitted with the employer being aware of such existing disabilities rather than have the employer discover it later, as this might give them reasons to act in an otherwise defensive way. Before disclosure, a potential employee needs to research the employer and determine their history concerning the way they handle disability. Some employers view it as an opportunity as described by Santuzzi and Waltz (2016) or a liability. Should any red flags appear, they should not do it and they should go ahead to consider withdrawing their interest altogether lest they get discriminated against.
Bonaccio, S., Connelly, C. E., Gellatly, I. R., Jetha, A., & Ginis, K. A. M. (2019). The Participation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace Across the Employment Cycle: Employer Concerns and Research Evidence. Journal of Business and Psychology, 1-24.
Santuzzi, A. M., Waltz, P. R., Finkelstein, L. M., & Rupp, D. E. (2014). Invisible disabilities: Unique challenges for employees and organizations. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 7(2), 204-219.
Santuzzi, A. M., & Waltz, P. R. (2016). Disability in the workplace: A unique and variable identity. Journal of Management, 42(5), 1111-1135.Von Schrader, S., Malzer, V., & Bruyere, S. (2014). Perspectives on disability disclosure: the importance of employer practices and workplace climate. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 26(4), 237-255.
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