, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 237-255,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 20 Jul 2013

Perspectives on Disability Disclosure: The Importance of Employer Practices and Workplace Climate


Disclosing a disability to a potential or current employer is a very personal decision, with potentially far-reaching consequences for both the employer and employee. Disability disclosure can assure that employees receive appropriate workplace accommodations, and can help employers respond more effectively to diversity and inclusion initiatives aimed at increasing the hiring and retention of individuals with disabilities. However, disclosure may also result in negative employment consequences for employees, such as lowered supervisor expectations, isolation from co-workers, and increased likelihood of termination. Given demographic trends related to disability in the labor force and recent initiatives to increase the employment of individuals with disabilities, it is increasingly important that employers create an environment that encourages disclosure and reduces the likelihood of negative consequences for employees and applicants who disclose their disabilities. This paper presents the findings of a survey of individuals with disabilities focused on identifying and better understanding the factors that influence the disclosure decision. Results highlight the barriers and facilitators that influence individuals’ decision to disclose and the important role that employers, managers, and workplace climate play in the decision. Implications for employer policy and practice are also discussed.

The authors would like acknowledge the significant contributions of Robin Shaffert and Francesca Mastrangelo of the American Association of People with Disabilities, Crystal Blyler of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and William Erickson and Sara Van Looy of the Employment and Disability Institute, Cornell University in the design and implementation of this study.
The contents of this paper were developed under grants from the Department of Education, NIDRR grant numbers H133B040013 (Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment Policy and Individuals with Disabilities) and H133B100017 (Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes among Individuals with Disabilities). However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.