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What workers need to know about disclosing learning disabilities

Employers often want workers who are dependable, organized and productive. But for employees with learning disabilities, meeting those expectations can be an uphill battle, as they often have to overcome obstacles their learning differences can create. But when given the right tools, neurodivergent employees can create value for the organizations they serve.

Rights to accommodations

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers with more than five employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with learning disabilities. To do so, the neurodivergent employee may need to disclose their diagnosis to their superiors and provide documentation. The employee is also responsible for coming up with workplace adjustments that can help them perform their jobs.

However, employers have the legal right to determine what accommodations are considered reasonable. The term “reasonable” means the accommodations cannot impose undue hardship on the employer or decrease the quality or production of the work performed.

Requesting and negotiating with employers

Not every employee with a learning disability may need to disclose their diagnosis. However, some may choose to if their condition starts negatively impacting their job performance.

This is how employees can successfully request and implement workplace adjustments:

  • Decide the best way to make the request: There are multiple ways an employee can do so. It can be through an email, talking to their supervisor or writing a formal letter. In some cases, employers may have their own disclosure process.
  • Explain why the accommodation is needed: If an employee needs a specific accommodation, they should be able to explain to the employer why it is necessary. But if the employer declines the request, they may have to explore other options. They should also explain to their employer that these requests are inexpensive and can help increase their work output.
  • Evaluate whether changes are helping or not: If the requested accommodations are approved, it is the employee’s responsibility to determine if they are helpful. If the accommodation ends up not working, the employee should notify the employer, so they can look at other approaches.

Employees with learning disabilities can thrive

Employees with learning disabilities can be successful when employers give them the right tools to perform their jobs. For employees concerned about disclosing their diagnosis and requesting job adjustments, an experienced employment law attorney in Southern California can help them understand their rights and answer their questions.