Tool 7 - Disclosing a Disability: When an Employee Tells Their Manager about a Disability

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The Communication Tools to Support Disability Inclusion Toolkit includes 11 templates to help managers with disability inclusion:

What’s Tool 7 About?

This tool was designed to help employers avoid ADA charges due to managers and supervisors making a mis-step when an employee discloses a disability.

Tips about the Tool 7 template:

  • Too often, managers don’t understand that that when an employee discloses a disability, this disclosure can’t be dismissed or ignored. Employers are required to accommodate known disabilities. When the employee discloses a disability to the manager, something needs to happen.
  • Simply having managers listen and respect an employee who is making a disability disclosure can go a long way toward building trust in an organization.
  • This message assumes that managers and supervisors do not make decisions alone about whether an accommodation will be provided or what accommodation will be provided. In the vast majority of workplaces, the manager will decide with the assistance of HR or a special accommodation office within the workplace. If this is not the case, managers and supervisors will need more support than is given in this message. Contact the Northeast ADA Center for best practice around accommodating employees with disabilities.

You can copy and paste the template text below into a word processor and customize it for your organization. 

Disclosing a Disability: When an Employee Tells Their Manager about a Disability

My employee has a disability. What do I do now?

When an employee at (COMPANY NAME) discloses a disability, do these four things: (1) listen, (2) support, (3) inform, and (4) move it forward:

  • Listening simply involves giving the employee your full attention when they explain their situation. During this conversation, don’t go into the details about their diagnosis or medical condition. Don’t make judgements or assumptions. Just listen.
  • Supporting means letting the employee know that their situation will be taken seriously and efforts will be made to enable them to keep being productive when working with the disability.
  • Informing means telling the employee about next steps for both the employer and employee.
  • Moving forward means contacting (CONTACT INFORMATION) to get the accommodation process started.

Want to learn more?

For more about this topic, visit northeastada.org or call the Northeast ADA Center at 800-949-4232.

If the above text pastes into Microsoft Word with unwanted gray shading, select the text and use the Paint Bucket tool to choose No Color for the fill. Or, when pasting, try choosing Edit > Paste Special > Formatted Text (RTF).


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