Hidden Disablity Quandary

In September my friend Sara shared the article link below on Facebook from the New York Times.  Sara is a wonderful woman who lives and works in a very supportive community in Chicago.  Sara also happens to have a disability labeled Epilepsy.  Sara confided that she does not reveal her disability when hired but only after she is offered the job does she talk with the employer about limitations she has.  It certainly flies in the face of the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) which says that a person must not be discriminated against if they can do the job with reasonable accommodations. 

I often speculate if we can lump employer fear, doubt, preconceived bias as a “reasonable accommodation” to take into account when hiring an individual with a disability?  Will we ever overcome this fear?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to present the Office of Governor Inslee with an Outstanding Employer award from our state association Community Employment Alliance (CEA).  We nominated the Governor’s office because of how supportive they are and how they have included our client in their family.  The Governor’s Office was one of approximately 15-20 employers receiving such an award.  What I heard repeatedly from this throng of employers was how positive the experience was even when they were doubtful at first to hire an individual with a developmental disability.  I wish I could bottle all the positive statements up and when someone expresses doubt unscrew the lid and unleash a little bit of this enthusiasm to convince the skeptic to just try it.
Unfortunately most of the clients we serve do not wish to disclose their disability – they have had too many experiences whereby someone has immediately closed the door before it could be opened.


CEO Viewpoint is published by Jim Larson, CEO Morningside

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