Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 237-255

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

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

  • Sarah von SchraderAffiliated withEmployment and Disability Institute, Cornell University Email author 
  • , Valerie MalzerAffiliated withEmployment and Disability Institute, Cornell University
  • , Susanne BruyèreAffiliated withEmployment and Disability Institute, Cornell University


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.


Disclosure Disability Self-identification Employer practices Inclusion