Disclosing Disability in the Workplace
It's a tight rope act and creates great fear
The decision to disclose a disability or serious health condition in the workplace — especially a hidden one — is a decision that thousands of people face every day. They wonder, “If I disclose, will I get an interview?” “Will I be hired?” “Will I receive the support I need?” “Will my colleagues judge my performance differently?” “Will I be able to advance in my career?” Or worst, “Will my boss find a way to lay me off?”
Until three years ago, I had never given these questions any thought. So, when a neurologist diagnosed me in August 2017 with ALS, I reacted with fear. Fear of the disease, fear of looming disability and fear of disclosing.
I was fearful about how my colleagues would react, and what kind of impact disclosure might have on our team of a dozen people working for Inera, the company my wife founded in 1992. ALS is a fatal disease with no known cause or cure, and I did not want to cause fear among the customers with whom I work every day. Even before leaving the neurologist’s office, I knew that I could not disclose my diagnosis.
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