Disclosure in the Workplace

‘Having to reveal information about one’s self to another person that is potentially discrediting or stigmatizing to one’s reputation.’

Disclosing in the workplace refers to telling employers and or fellow co-workers about your learning disability – this is the most difficult decision employees or job candidates will make.

Disclosing your learning disability (LD)

  • Each disclosure must be prepared for each particular situation. No two situations are alike.
  • How and when you talk to an employer about your disability maybe the single most important, most personal and perhaps biggest risk you have ever taken.
  • Each individual has experienced successes and failures. The nature of these will influence the readiness to disclose.

Why disclose?

  • In order to receive reasonable accommodation as your legal right, you must disclose your disability.
  • Keeping your learning disability hidden makes it difficult for you to maintain your integrity.
  • The way your disability manifests itself is causing a problem for other people. You think they deserve an explanation. “
  • Disclosing may reduce the stress of hiding the learning disability.
  • By discussing the learning disability the employee/candidate provides employers, managers and co-workers with accurate, first-hand information, dispelling any myths and misconceptions.

Why you may wish not to disclose?

  • Some adults may not be aware that they have a learning disability or they have not been properly assessed prior to entering the workforce;
  • You may not need accommodations and your LD is not an issue in how you perform the job;
  • You are not comfortable in discussing your LD;
  • You may have had a negative experience and choose not to repeat a similar situation;
  • You may fear that disclosing will lead to prejudice, discrimination or rejection;
  • You have reason to believe the reaction will be negative and may harm your chances for promotion, etc.

The size of the company is a significant factor in whether or not to disclose. Large organizations tend to offer more supportive programs such as a Diversity Manager, Workplace Equity Branch, Corporate Training Centre, etc. Small organizations may be limited in the services and programs they offer.

Some other factors that influence a decision to disclose or not: is the job the right match for the person? Will the LD interfere with the job duties? Will disclosure cause biases? Is there sufficient trust between the employee and employer?

To encourage disclosure and full participation, employers should examine the workplace environment and eliminate barriers preventing persons with learning disabilities from disclosing.

Disclosing a learning disability requires a lot of thought and planning. Persons with learning disabilities should carefully plan how they wish to disclose and know the implications of this action. Employees and/or job candidates may first want to reveal a little bit of information at a time in order to establish a level of comfort and trust. Ultimately, the employee must decide the time, the place and the degree of information to share with others.

Reprinted from: http://www.ldac-taac.ca/InDepth/employment_disclosure-e.asp