Job hunting makes the list of top ten most stressful activities you can undertake, but job hunting after a serious car crash or catastrophic accident ups ante, especially if you require a long healing period or are permanently disabled as a result of the crash.
Do you have to detail your injury or limitations? Should you ask for accommodations? Read below to answer some common questions we’ve heard from clients whose work life was impacted by the crash or accident.
Speak Up: Should You Disclose Your Disability to Your Employer?
It is important for an employee to provide information about the nature of their disability, the limitations involved and how the disability affects the ability to learn and perform the job effectively. The employer has a right to know if a disability is involved when an employee asks for accommodations.
Deciding if and when to share disability-related information with a prospective or current employer can be difficult. The disability disclosure decision-making process requires answering a number of personal questions that may be different with each employment experience. “Do I have an obligation to disclose?” “When is the right time?” and “How much medical information will I be required to provide?”
Why You Should
Some people with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to do a particular job. According to the US Department of Justice, a reasonable accommodation is a “modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.”
As an example, someone who is blind might need their employer to provide screen reader software if they have a visual impairment. Or if someone is going to work as a bank teller and they use a wheelchair, an employer may need to lower a counter space. If an employer is unaware of your disability, they have no legal obligation to provide you with a reasonable accommodation.
How You Should
In order to present yourself in the best possible light, it is important to focus on your abilities and not your limitations. Your disclosure should focus on your skills, show that you are able to face challenges in a positive manner, and find solutions and workarounds for problems. You can also Include the strategies you have for coping with your disability.
This is also an excellent opportunity to address common myths or assumptions about your particular disability. Some people might assume that someone who uses a wheelchair is unable to get to work by themselves. You might point out that the workplace is on a bus line, or that you drive a wheelchair-accessible vehicle or have some other transportation solution.
When You Should
Brad Parker says, “It is crucial that an employee be straightforward. ADA provisions must be made by the employer to accommodate those with disabilities. How can they make those accommodations if they aren’t made aware? Also, your disability may be a legitimate safety factor in why an employer might not put you in a position.”
Ideally, employees should disclose a disability and request accommodations before performance problems arise, or at least before they become too serious. That can be during the application or interview process, the first day on the job, or years down the road. For someone who needs testing accommodations, disclosure in the application process may be necessary.
For another applicant who has great difficulty communicating and thinking on her feet, a request for interview questions ahead of time may be needed. Some employees who have successfully worked for years without accommodations may find it necessary to disclose and ask for accommodations due to changes in their job, or changes in their disability.
It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee’s employment due to a disability. Brad says, “If this happens, that person needs to reach out to an attorney who specifically handles disability claims. Even though we don’t handle these ADA claims, we can get them in touch with the right attorney that can help them with their case,” Brad says.