Regardless of your medical condition, you have the right to secure employment. Some medical conditions may not affect your job performance, with proper treatment and management. Others may require accommodations, some of which your employer may or may not provide.
And then there are certain conditions that may make specific occupations a poor fit for you, making dismissal a possibility (although, this is illegal). In other words, taking a job with a medical condition can present some legal challenges, and it’s important to know your rights, which this post will highlight.
What is medical disclosure in the workplace?
Just like any other background check, an employer may ask for your medical records during the onboarding process. The purpose of a medical examination is to ensure you can perform your responsibilities at work without any medical constraints, and if you need any support from the employer. Legally, that should be the only agenda of the employer when asking for your medical record.
The organization, however, isn’t free to inquire as they want regarding your medical well-being. As per Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there are certain guidelines regarding pre-employment inquiries and medical examinations. The questions are asked keeping the relevant state laws and employer policies in consideration.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made it illegal to deny anyone health insurance benefits based on medical history. There are also guidelines for employers regarding basic confidentiality rules. This includes keeping an employee’s medical information private unless they observe any issue with their work. On top of this, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule highlights the employee medical privacy laws that protect their medical information.
Revealing a medical diagnosis
Employment health disclosure can either work in your favor or against you. If your employer and coworkers are supportive, you’ll have a great time at work. You’ll experience less stress and feel more accepted, and could reach out to them without hesitation in case of any assistance or emergency medical situations. You can also use health benefits under certain circumstances.
On the flip side, in some cases, you might face discrimination or ignorance for being disabled or suffering from a medical ailment. In addition to this, the declaration of certain illnesses might portray you as unfit for specific roles and can cause delays in your career growth. All of this may bring you undue stress and anxiety.
When not to disclose a medical condition
You may choose not to disclose minor medical illnesses to the employer if you’re able to execute the essential work duties without the need for reasonable accommodation or prolonged medical leaves.
If what you suffer from doesn’t affect your performance and safety, you can choose not to reveal your medical history.
When to disclose a medical condition to an employer
If you suffer from any chronic illness, such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart ailments, etc., or any sort of mental illness or anxiety issues, you may want to be transparent about your health from a safety perspective. Besides, these conditions may require you to seek accommodations from your employer.
As part of the medical accommodation process, employers need to know on what medical grounds you need accommodation if you’ve requested one. Here, disclosing your health condition becomes a prerequisite. You’ll have to furnish sufficient proof to support your medical condition.
When to speak to an employment law attorney
Having a challenging medical history not only makes you more prone to illness but also complex legal issues at work. Sometimes, your employer might take unfair advantage of your medical condition by creating workplace challenges, such as negative or derogatory remarks on your medical condition or depriving you of career opportunities leading to delayed advancement. You might even want to resign from your position in these conditions.
If you’re wondering “can I sue my employer,” we’ve got you covered. All you need is an employment law attorney to help you through such tough times. Below are some common issues for which you may need to consult an employment lawyer.
Wrongful termination due to a medical condition
If you think you got terminated for invalid reasons perhaps linked to your medical illness, seek immediate help from a wrongful termination lawyer to understand your rights and navigate through the legal process. Unless your medical condition prevents you from carrying out crucial job obligations even with reasonable accommodations, it’s unlawful for your employer to fire you.
Employer forces you to disclose a medical condition
As per the ADA, employers can’t forcibly ask questions regarding medical records before making a job offer, in most cases. If you feel you’re compelled to disclose medical history, you must speak to a wrongful termination lawyer.
Employer fails to provide the accommodation you’re entitled to
You may face a situation where you’ve willingly disclosed your disabilities, but you’re still deprived of reasonable accommodations. And the accommodations may vary according to your needs. For instance, the accommodation provided to a deaf employee will differ from the one for someone undergoing cancer treatment. If denied the same, you can seek legal support to resolve the issue and can expect a fair outcome.
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against at work, wrongfully terminated due to some medical conditions, or not given the rightful accommodations at work, contact LegalASAP today and schedule your free employment case evaluation. Our network of trusted and experienced attorneys is always ready to assist you with your legal matters.