All Questions

Voluntary Disclosure of Disability

Q: I am a cancer patient in remission for Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. I have recently been applying to jobs (post cancer diagnosis) and I am confused what I should be answering regarding the voluntary disclosure of a disability. Mostly, is my form of cancer (which could reoccur) considered as me having a history of a disability?

A: First, let's tackle the question of a history of a disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person can have a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. This means that the person may not be substantially limited now but has a record of that kind of condition. Having cancer which required extensive care management would certainly fit this criterion.

Now on the issue of disclosing a disability, that is absolutely voluntary. This means you need not discuss your cancer at all. This is not hiding information or lying to the perspective employer; it is your right not to disclose.

When applying for a job that you feel you are qualified for, you simply apply with the merits of your qualifications. After acceptance of a job, you still have no obligation to disclose any disability related information. You may need to disclose when and if you may need a reasonable accommodation as is provided under Title I of the ADA. At that point, an employer may ask for related medical documentation as you go through the interactive dialogue of a reasonable accommodation request process to verify your disability and the related need for an accommodation.


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