I had wanted to talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act–“ADA.”

It gives people with a functional impairment the right to obtain reasonable accommodations on the job so that they can be able to do the job alongside workers who don’t have a disability. The catch is that granting the accommodation can’t create an undue hardship on the running of the business.

You ask for an accommodation at the point you need it–not in the interview–at the point when you’ve started the job or down the road when you start to experience a hardship. A friend and I think that if you can do the job as well or better than your co-workers the diagnosis is nobody’s business.

I’ve read an article in the print version of SZ magazine years ago that took a let-it-all-hang-out approach to disclosure when the people interviewed answered the question.

Not so fast. If people responding to a woman’s Internet article in a comments section are scathing about her attempt to remain employed when she has a diagnosis–how do you think it’s going to be on the job when co-workers respond to this.

I make the case for thinking long and hard how you frame your request for an accommodation if you want to do this. My take would be along the line of telling your HR department:

“I want to do the best job possible. I would like to exceed as well. I’ll need an adjustment. Can I tell you what I”d like to do and you tell me how we can proceed?”

The point is the ADA is NOT a ticket like in a Monopoly game of work where you’re handed a “Get Out of Work Free” card like avoiding jail time.

I make the case for figuring out your own accommodations and using them on your own with no one else being any wiser. Years ago I read on the SAMHSA website about accommodations people made on the job that their employers didn’t know about.

Log on to the ASKJan website to discover the myriad of accommodations you can make according to your functional limitation. This is the government’s Job Accommodation Network that has been on the Internet for at least 12 years now no kidding.

Take advantage of JAN it’s a free service.

The woman who wrote the Internet article about barely squeaking by on a job in corporate America in an office did have one valid point: I think corporate America is not as kind to people with disabilities as other work environments are.

One person who commented got it right: the job is not a support group. I say to get feedback go to an actual peer support group. Your co-workers are not the ones to flood with your mental health issues like a fire hose going off. True: I still think it’s dice-y to disclose on the job because trust is a factor.

Disclosing on the job has cost one person I know a promotion.

The woman who wrote the article had trouble staying awake all day. I recommend that if you get drowsy during the day to see about switching your dose time. As soon as I took most of the dose at night and a tiny dose in the morning I was wide awake every day and had no side effects.

Before discontinuing your medication (I don’t advise that) you can see if your pdoc thinks changing the dose time would help halt daytime drowsiness.

This is the last secret: finding an open environment on the job can make it easier for you to get an accommodation when you’re drowsy or have a symptom.

I’m going to talk in the next blog entry about hiring practices.

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