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Can we ask about disabilities before hiring?

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in Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources

Q. We recently extended an employment offer to someone who was later determined to be unable to perform the job’s essential functions due to a visual impairment. As a result, we wasted a significant amount of time. Aren’t workers obligated under the ADA to disclose that they suffer from a disability?

A. An applicant is not required to divulge that he or she suffers from a disability during the hiring process. Plus, employers are prohibited from asking applicants about such impairments before extending a job offer.

However, an employer may ask whether the individual can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

The rules are slightly different if an applicant suffers from an obvious disability. If the worker’s impairment creates a reasonable belief that the individual may require an accommodation to perform the functions of the job, the employer is permitted to ask whether accommodations will be needed. If the applicant acknowledges the need for an accommodation, the employer may inquire as to the type of accommodation required.

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