Can an Employer Ask for Proof of Disability?

If you are someone with a disability, several laws in America protect you from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The most well-known is the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in housing, employment, transportation and government programs. If your employer asks you about your disability, including requests for proof, learn how the law protects your rights.

What Can Employers Ask?

Under federal and state law in California, a disability is a protected class. A protected class is a trait that comes with special defenses against discrimination and harassment. Other protected classes are age, sex and race. As a person with a disability, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws protect you from having to answer any questions about your disability during the hiring process.

According to the ADA, it is against the law for an employer to ask a job applicant about his or her disability. An employer cannot ask questions about a disability at any point in the hiring process. Only after the employer gives the applicant a job can he or she ask about disabilities; and then, the employer can only ask those questions necessary to provide the individual with reasonable disability accommodations.

The government has strict laws prohibiting employers from factoring a disability into the hiring decision. The only question an employer may ask you in an employment interview is whether you are able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations. If an employer asks you directly if you have any disabilities before hiring you, he or she has violated the rules of the ADA.

Why Would You Disclose a Disability?

If you wish to disclose your disability during the hiring process, you have the right to do so. However, whether or not to give this information is up to you. No law requires you to disclose a disability when applying for a job or interviewing with a prospective employer. If you do choose to disclose your disability in a job interview and believe this is why you did not get the job, you could be a victim of discrimination.

Once you have the job, you might need to disclose your disability to request accommodations. You might need the workplace outfitted with wheelchair-accessible ramps, for example, or require captioning on monitors if you are hard of hearing. If your employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodations for your disability or fires you after you disclose your disability, this is discrimination. It is against the law to discriminate or retaliate against an employee upon discovering his or her disability.

Do You Need Proof?

No, in most cases, you do not need to provide your employer with proof of your disability to obtain reasonable accommodations. Your employer should fulfill your request, within reason, without requiring documentation of your disability. If, however, your employer does not believe your disability is obvious, he or she has the right to request proof in the form of medical documentation that the disability exists. Note that the law only obligates you to provide enough documentation to prove that you require the accommodation being requested. Requiring more proof than this is a violation of your ADA rights.

Get Help From a Los Angeles ADA Attorney

Despite the laws and protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act, many employers in the US and California discriminate, harass and retaliate against workers with disabilities. If you are a victim of disability discrimination in Los Angeles, consult with an ADA attorney for assistance. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and go up against an employer who has violated them.

Your lawyer can assist you with filing a civil employment claim, which can force an employer to adhere to the law and potentially provide you with a job and/or lost wages. Filing a claim can hold the employer accountable and prevent future employees with disabilities from dealing with the same issue. Contact a Los Angeles ADA attorney for more information today.