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Navigating an invisible disability while you are at work

If you suffer from a so-called invisible disease or disability, you have likely navigated many frustrating challenges in everyday life. Perhaps you receive dirty looks from strangers when you pull into a handicapped parking stall. Perhaps your pain level makes it difficult to do seemingly easy tasks like sit through a movie in public. And perhaps you struggle to get through the work week either occasionally or consistently.

If you have an invisible disease like Lupus or an invisible disability like chronic back pain, you have almost certainly questioned whether or not to disclose your medical condition to your employer. Unless you work in certain professions, it is important to understand that you likely do not have to disclose the specifics of your medical condition to your employer. However, doing so to a certain extent may help you to navigate your work more successfully.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, most employers must make reasonable accommodations for their disabled employees, unless certain exceptions apply. Depending on the nature of your condition, you may or may not think of yourself as disabled. But whether or not you identify with this particular label, your disease or disability may entitle you to certain protections under the law.

Whether you want to learn more about your privacy rights or your right to reasonable accommodations under the law, it may benefit you to speak with an attorney experienced in employment law. An attorney will be able to guide you through local and federal laws that may apply to you and your particular situation.

Source: North Country Public Radio, "People With 'Invisible Disabilities' Fight For Understanding," Naomi Gingola, March 8, 2015

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