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Can an Employer Ask for Proof of Disability?

Posted on July 24, 2019 | Discrimination

As someone with a disability in America, you have rights and protections under federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects you from issues such as employment discrimination and harassment. Your disability is a protected class, meaning employers and coworkers cannot exhibit biases against you because of your incapacity. It is also your right to decide whether or not to disclose a disability to an employer.

No Right to Ask About Disabilities

Employers do not have the right to ask prospective hires about disabilities. If an employer does ask you about a disability during the hiring process, he or she has infringed upon your rights under the ADA. You may be able to file a claim against the company. The employer cannot ask you about disabilities at any point during hiring procedures. The only time an employer can ask about disabilities is after you receive a job offer. Even then, the employer may only ask questions about it to provide reasonable accommodations.

The law has strict rules regarding if, when and how an employer can ask an employee about a disability. The employer does not have the right to ask about a disability if the goal is to include it in the hiring decision. An employer may ask if you can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without accommodations, but it is against the law to directly ask if you have any disabilities. Instead, it is up to you, the employee, whether or not to give this information.

As an employee, it may be in your best interest to disclose a disability to better perform your job. If you are hard of hearing, for example, disclosing this disability could lead to accommodations such as captions on workplace presentations or a special headset for communicating with customers. Keep in mind, however, that your employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against you upon learning of your disability.

If you have additional questions regarding a possible discrimination case, call one of our Los Angeles disability discrimination attorneys, we offer free consultations and a free case evaluation.

Do You Need Proof?

You typically will not need to supply proof of a disability to an employer in California. If you have an obvious disability, most employers will accommodate your needs without requiring further documentation. The only time you may need to bring in medical documentation to support your disability is if you are requesting reasonable accommodations and if the employer does not think your disabilities are obvious.

If you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after a bad accident, for example, you may not show any physical signs of your disability and you may need to show proof. Requesting workplace accommodations, therefore, may result in your employer requesting medical documentation of your condition. You are under no obligation to provide any information or documentation beyond what is necessary to prove you need the disability accommodation.

An employer that requests medical documentation before providing accommodations has the right to turn down the request. Employers cannot, however, deny reasonable accommodations for proven or obvious disabilities. Employers also cannot retaliate against you for asking for disability accommodations. Retaliation can involve harassment, mean jokes, discrimination, demotion or wrongful termination. Failing to hire you because of your disability is against the law if you can perform the essential tasks of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

Filing a Claim Against an Employer in California

If you believe an employer has disregarded your rights as an American with disabilities, you could have a case against the company. Filing a civil employment claim for disability discrimination could result in compensation for your lost wages, lost earning capacity, lost job opportunities and emotional distress. A claim could hold the employer responsible for its actions and help prevent similar issues with other employees with disabilities in the future. An employment lawyer in Los Angeles can help you bring your claim.