Hi everyone! I just wanted to run a question by everyone to see if anyone has any previous experience to share. I’ve recently been applying to jobs, since I’m now a college graduate. I have come across an application question that has stumped me though. A majority of the applications ask if you have a disability. It is a required question, and I’m unsure of the best approach. Diabetes is a disability according to the list of disabilities. I’m not surprised since my previous schools have considered my Type 1 to be a disability in relation to testing. Has anyone come across a similar situation in relation to their job applications? I put yes for having a disability on my first few applications, but now I’ve recently been putting that I prefer not to say. The applications also don’t have the option to explain your disability or select which one you have. That is understandable since clarifying your specific disability can be used for discrimination. Any advice or previous stories about experiences would be greatly appreciated!
Hi, @kayla-rebew! My type 1 daughter graduated in May and was seeing the same question on her applications. She decided to put “prefer not to answer.” She started her new job last week and she made her manager aware of her diabetes. Companies need to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, that’s why they ask, but unless you need specific accommodations, I personally feel folks should only disclose what they feel comfortable disclosing. Good luck with your job search!
I will also suggest that when considering that particular question, you ask yourself if you consider yourself disabled [I do not]. Ask yourself this question in relation to the position for which you are making application considering the duties you will be asked to perform and your ability, diabetes wise, to be successful. Obviously you would not be applying for the position of “taste-tester” for a jam & jelly manufacturer.
In over fifty years of employment I never mentioned that I had diabetes when making application. However in 1960 on my first day of work at Prudential Insurance Company I was fired when someone reviewing my employee benefit health insurance enrollment card noticed the word “diabetes” - in those days that was “legal”.
I agree to only disclose if you are comfortable with it. Personally, I don’t consider myself to have a disability but companies may so I always put “Prefer not to answer.” Once hired I explain right away to my supervisor to make them aware. Have not had any problems all my employers have been very understanding.
As always, so well said.
Thank you. I was literally just diagnosed 6 days ago, and I’m pretty much lost. I have a job interview this week and was wondering the same thing. I appreciate the help.
@Dennis, I completely agree! I personally feel like my diabetes isn’t a disability as well. I will definitely be sure to put “prefer not to say”.
I never considered myself disabled until I started working for a large retail establishment. I informed them at my interview that the only thing that would “keep me from doing my job” was that I have diabetes and therefore need to eat my meals at certain times of the day. I was told this wouldn’t be a problem. However, when my schedule came out I was scheduled for a 1pm lunch one day and a 3 pm lunch the next. No set schedules. I spoke to them and told them when I needed to eat. Even had to bring them a doctor’s note after I passed out at my register due to my supervisor not letting me go eat when I told her I needed to. I eventually had to go on an Intermittent FMLA to get them to give me my breaks when I needed them. Thankfully, this has only happened to me once at the many jobs I’ve had over the last 40 yrs. Most employers are very willing to work with you from my experience!
Let me preface my response by saying I am an investigator with the Wisconsin agancy charged with enforcing employment discrimination law. @kayla-rebew, you state the applications are asking whether you have a disability. I’m wondering if what you’re referencing is a form that’s separate from the application. If so, this form is kept separate from the application, and is used to determine whether you require accommodations to perform the job duties. The actual job application (where you provide your education and work experience) should not ask whether you have a disability! It can ask whether you will be able to perform the job duties, either with or without reasonable accommodation. But, a question like “Do you have a disability?” is just as illegal as “What is your race!”
Thank you for your response @MonicaM! One of my recent applications labeled the part of the application as a “voluntary self-identification of disability”. It immediately followed the work experience section of the application.
So, I just found this, but The College Diabetes Network just published an Off-To-Work booklet with awesome information for soon-to-be or recent college graduates with T1D! Here is the link to it: https://www.tfaforms.com/4676766
This booklet has really awesome info on starting a new job with diabetes, and whether you should tell your interviewer/supervisor if you have diabetes or not. In the end, it’s what you are comfortable with! I hope this helps!
@flebeccaann Thank you for sharing that booklet! It certainly had a lot of helpful information in it. I’ll be taking note of a few things I read in there for my job hunt as well as for the interview process.
Awesome! I’m glad it can help!
Hi—- I used to work for an organization that helps and supports companies that has a federal contract.m and I also have a T1D son. Those federal contractors are required to solicit disability statuses of applicants as well as those that they hire. They are also required to solicit the information from the their current employees. However, the results of this solicitations SHOULD NOT be shared with hiring managers as this may result to discrimination. As you may have seen on the form, you have the option to opt out on disclosing your disability status. Organizations are required to have that option because the form should be treated as voluntary and for compliance purposes only. You may opt out on disclosing it in the application stage and definitely let the company know when you get hired as you might need to request for accommodation at some point. If you think you are discriminated upon because of your diabetes, I would recommend that you file a complaint to the EEOC so they can investigate. Good luck!!!
Thank you for sharing! This is handy to know as well.
It might be different where you live as well. I live and work in the UK and I always state to having a disability in job applications, but also there is an option to say it’s a chronic disease, instead of other types of disability. This information is only used to confirm they are giving everyone a chance to apply and also to make the necessary changes to work, like break times for instants. I have never been rejected or discriminated against by doing this, but obviously the cultural context can be different!
I agree with Monica. this sounds like the demographic info they gather for job applicants for their diversity goals or whatever. I never answer these. Any of them. None of their bidness.
Another thing someone told me a long time ago is if there’s a question on a form you don’t want to answer, just don’t answer it. Often the interviewer or whatever won’t notice anyway. If they do, you can explain your self then.
I just don’t like to tell people about D if it’s not a need to know basis. There are too many people with crazy ideas about what it is and I don’t want to penalized for their ignorance.
I wish I could skip that section, but it’s required to answer for online applications. I’m unfortunately quite a ways away from the places I’m applying to. So, the paper applications aren’t quite feasible at the moment. I agree completely with wanting to avoid the ignorance of some. That’s why I’m so hesitant to share with an employer about it. I’ve luckily had a couple interviews where they listened and tried to understand.
After I posted this I got to thinking perhaps it was a required field on an electronic form where if you want to apply, you HAVE to answer.
My question about this is Diabetes a disability. I recall a few years ago there was hub bub becuase Diabetes was determined to not be classified as a disability… If that’s the case, No would be the correct answer IMHO.
Oops, just saw the ADA says it is. Very confusing. Luckinly when I applied for jobs it was on paper
Have you tried to contact the ADA or JDRF to get their recommendations on this? Talking to a lawyer might be good too if you can afford it.
I’ll try contacting ADA and see what they say actually! I’ve heard a lot of people saying that responding with “prefer not to say” is the safest bet. Some of the applications that I’ve filled out don’t ask, but others do. I will contact ADA about it though. Thanks for the article! It definitely clarified why diabetes is considered a disability. I’ll have to mention that when anyone asks why it’s considered a disability. Thank you!