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Thread: Disclosing medical problems

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Disclosing medical problems

    At what point, if any, do you think it is appropriate to disclose to potential employers that you have a chronic medical condition? A frind of mine, who is close to being offered a job in another community, is fretting about this. He has a medical condition that involves sudden attacks that can put him in bed (or kneeing in front of the toilet) for hours or days at a time. It usually is controlled through diet and exercise, but not perfectly. Should he let people know in advance, or when the offer him the job, or never, or what. He is a good worker and does what he needs to do to get the job done. If he's knocked out for a day by an attack he works extra hours to make up for it, and the job suffers very little as a consequence. It can be a problem when he has to bail on a scheduled meeting.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    They didn't ask. I didn't volunteer. When I went to new employee orientation, I wrote it down on the disclosure form I was given, which was then turned upside down and handed over. It's in my file somewhere. I have no idea who, if anyone, has bothered to read it. I haven't yet missed a day of work due to illness. Some of the younger, healthier people who were hired with me have.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I believe the simple answer is that ADA covers this according to the following -

    Q. What limitations does the ADA impose on medical examinations and inquiries about disability?
    Q. When can an employer ask an applicant to "self-identify" as having a disability?
    Q. Can an employer consider health and safety when deciding whether to hire an applicant or retain an employee with a disability?

    Answers at: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/q%26aeng02.htm
    Last edited by JNA; 21 Jan 2007 at 9:06 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I'm not asking so much about the legal requirements, as the ethical. Do you think someone with a chronic medical condition has a duty to let a prospective employer know about it? And if so, when? I guess the answer is to let them know when it becomes a problem.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    I'm not asking so much about the legal requirements, as the ethical. Do you think someone with a chronic medical condition has a duty to let a prospective employer know about it? And if so, when? I guess the answer is to let them know when it becomes a problem.
    My opinion: If you can do the job and if you know you are going to do what is necessary to mitigate any impacts on your job, you do what the law requires in terms of disclosure while trying not to draw undue attention to it. While I am very publically open about my condition in many ways, what I am dealing with can't be effectively summed up in the three words "atypical cystic fibrosis". My form of CF is a fairly new diagnosis. If people have some familiarity with "cystic fibrosis", they tend to overestimate what my issues are by quite a bit. It takes time for people to understand my situation to any meaningful degree. I also don't have much of a track record of paid employment. So I personally would prefer that people who work with me on a day-to-day basis have some time to get to know me (and get to know my work) before they start having potentially prejudicial labels attached to me. Some folks at work already realize I'm "weird" and I have mentioned that I have allergies and blood sugar issues. With time, maybe some people will have more of an idea of why I'm "weird". Or maybe not. For my purposes, I don't think it much matters what the law says. I feel that my supervisors and co-workers need to feel confident that I can do the job. Seeing me perform for a few months first, before any specific mention of my diagnosis comes up, is probably the best (and perhaps the only) way for that to happen.

    FWIW: I was never offered any of the jobs where I disclosed my condition up front. I cannot prove that is a factor in not being offered any of those jobs but I do believe it is. This time, I disclosed my condition after accepting the job, in the aforementioned disclosure form which I was given to fill out. This has made me leery of being too up front with potential employers. Not to say I would intentionally deceive anyone. I just think calling undue attention to it makes it more likely to be seen by the employer as something which is likely to interfere with your ability to do the work. Keeping it low key is not dishonest. It just means not putting a huge spotlight on the issue, as if your diagnosis is the single-most important defining issue of your life. That huge spotlight is probably more of a deal-killer than the information per se.
    Last edited by Michele Zone; 21 Jan 2007 at 10:52 PM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Thanks for your insights. I'll pass it along.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Good luck to your friend.

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    FWIW- I do tell employers that I have asthma and disclose it on the forms. I tell them that I have attacks and when they happen, I use my inhaler. It hasn't been an issue so far and they seem to appreciate that I was upfront about it. Now granted, asthma is not as serious as other problems, but it is a little disconcerting for others to have to watch an attack.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    I never ask potential employees about medical conditions. I do not think it is my business. As far as disclosure, I think it would be more appropriate for HR, but the decision to hire or not hire an individual should not be made based upon this type of private issue. That is my $0.02.
    Satellite City Enabler

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
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    long term issues

    I started my career after kidney failure at school. Had a first job waiting for me after a failed transplant (Tx). Switched jobs after 4 1/2 years. As long as you don't make it an issue, the employers don't. I needed a progressive dialysis unit and I changed my schedule to fit my employment schedule. The cities made their schedule fit mine too.

    That being said, private sector need not be so giving. After a successful Tx I moved and then took a private sector job. 4 months in, I had a nasty car accident. Employer was good to my family, but then asked me to sign off COBRA. They didn't want me back in the office for fear of liability. Am not going back.

    Sorry for the rant. There are some good employers and some that "misunderstand". Be careful. They can't ask. You can tell if you need accommodation and the interview is going well. Otherwise they don't need to know.

    Sorry, no cute quote yet. All I can think of are song lyrics.

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