Can an Employer Ask for Proof of Disability?

Employment Law News | June 1, 2021

If you live with a disability in New York, you are protected from discrimination by several state and federal laws. In particular, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against you on the basis of your disability. Additionally, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations if you need them. If your employer asks you for proof of your disability, however, he or she may be violating these anti-discrimination laws.

When an Employer Can Ask About a Disability

Under the ADA, it is illegal for a prospective employer to ask you about your disability during the hiring process. He or she cannot use information about your disability as a factor in deciding whether or not to hire you. The only question that an employer can legally ask during an interview is whether you can perform your job functions with or without reasonable accommodations. If he or she asks you about your disability directly, the employer violates the ADA.

Your employer may ask questions about the disability after you are hired, but these questions can only concern any accommodations you may require to perform your job. He or she cannot discriminate against you for requesting reasonable accommodations to perform your job. If an employer rescinds a job offer due to your accommodation requests, you could file a claim against him or her.

Should You Disclose a Disability at Work?

Although federal law explicitly prohibits disability discrimination, employers may still commit illegal discriminatory acts against disabled employees. Many people living with disabilities feel nervous about disclosing their conditions to their employers. You have the right to decide whether or not you want to inform your employer of your condition. However, there are certain situations where this disclosure may be necessary.

To perform your job, you may require reasonable accommodations. For example, if you are hard of hearing, you may request your employer to provide closed captioning on monitors. If you use a wheelchair and your workplace does not have a ramp, you may ask your employer to install one. These requests are just a few examples of reasonable accommodations under the ADA.

However, if your employer refuses to provide these accommodations, retaliates against you, or fires you after you tell him or her about your disability, he or she violated federal law. In this situation, you could file a claim against him or her.

Requesting Proof of a Disability at Work

You are under no legal obligation to provide your employer with proof of disability. He or she must provide reasonable accommodations without requiring documentation of the disability. However, if your employer does not believe that you have a disability, he or she may request medical records to establish the existence of your condition.

However, you only have to provide enough evidence that you require the accommodation that you are requesting. If you provide this information to your employer and he or she requires additional documentation, he or she violates your rights under the ADA.

Speak to a New York Workplace Discrimination Attorney

If you have experienced disability discrimination in the workplace, you have the right to file a claim against your employer. You could file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New York Division of Human Rights (DHR). You could also file a lawsuit against your employer. Speak to a New York workplace discrimination lawyer to discuss your legal options and initiate the claims process.