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How to inform my Employer (New Diagnosis)

Discussion in 'Education and Employment' started by Jay A, Dec 2, 2021.

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  1. Jay A

    Jay A New Member

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    Hey there,

    Thanks to all for a warm welcome to the forum here. I was a little anxious at first, but after doing some browsing and seeing the fun responses to my intro post, I feel better.

    I could really use some advice about how I should go about letting my employer know of my recent diagnosis. I've been working there for 1 year now, and have pretty decent relationships with my coworkers - I actually told 2 of them about my diagnosis already since they are the people I work the most with. I believe it is important for my employer in general to have this information so that we can communicate better - I just don't know how to start the conversation.

    I was told when I first started that if my doctor had anything they wanted my employer to know, I should talk to this HR person, but that person has since left the company, and now I'm not sure who to reach out to. My plan was going to be reaching out to the head of HR since the other person is gone, but I've thought about it too much, and now I'm not entirely sure.

    I'm not even sure what to say? Like "hi I want to inform you of a mental health issue?" do people do that? I don't know - I feel lost. Help
     
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  2. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes V.I.P Member

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    Sometimes offering this info may not always be a good move. What were your reasons for this? Some employers may fear a disability issue and maybe don't want to be bothered with such. Employment after the pandemic has changed much more then we know.
     
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  3. Richelle-H

    Richelle-H Hiding Behind the Magic 8 Ball of Infinity V.I.P Member

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    Personally, I would only inform those you work with closely and then endeavour to educate them about your diagnosis. I also would not refer to it as a mental health issue. Sure, it may cause you stress, but you are not mentally defective, just different and there are a lot of us like that.

    If you have a supervisor, you might have a talk with them. The more people in the world who are informed and understand how we on the spectrum see and interact with the world, the better our chances at not being considered strange or weird. Informing HR would only be necessary if some issue arose over your interactions with a co-worker.

    I do not know if this perspective is of any use to you, but you should stop piling more stress on yourself. Life is stressful enough for everyone without seeking yet another source.
     
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  4. Jay A

    Jay A New Member

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    Thank you both, this is really helpful.
    I have actually informed my supervisor who has been extremely supportive of me throughout even the evaluation process. He and my coworker who I share an office with are the two people I've informed.

    This definitely helps alleviate some stress - thank you. I think I'm going to choose to just share the information with those I feel confident with and work with the most.
     
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  5. Magna

    Magna Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    A few things:

    1. Are you located in the U.S.? If so, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs workplace requirements, accommodations, etc. You are not obligated to disclose a disability. That's your own private business. A few reasons for wanting to disclose to your employer:
      • If you feel you need a "reasonable accommodation" to do your job. The operable term is "reasonable". Some "reasonable" accommodations may be (depending on the job, workplace, etc): A cubicle or office with a closing door, meeting times given to you in advance and meeting agenda/topics/purpose also given to you in advance, asking that any training of new tasks/duties be done in a way that best suits you such as having or allowing you to write down the training in a step by step manner. My own reasonable accommodation that my employer agreed to was allowing me to use my lunch hour to take a walk in order for me to decompress and mentally regroup for the remainder of the workday and then eat my lunch at my desk later while working. Since then, my reasonable accommodation my employer agreed to was permanent work from home status. If you don't feel you need any sort of reasonable accommodation, then it's debatable in my opinion if a person should disclose just of the sake of disclosing.
      • The ADA provides protection to disabled workers from being terminated based on their disability. It's illegal to do that. However...if an employee did NOT disclose their disability, gets fired in part because of it and THEN argues that they were fired because of their disability, the employer can't be faulted for something they weren't aware of.
      • If you do disclose your disability it's NOT required that you provide your employer with your specific diagnosis.
    I hope that helps.
     
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  6. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It is something I figured out for myself quite late but still is something I am very careful about. As a rule I only inform those that I trust and have already accepted me, quirks and all. I never did in the work place though, as you never can tell when it might be spread around and there are people out there with prejudicial and uninformed opinions on it. So for me its only been family and very close friends. You would have to inform an employer of course if you were trying to get some autism related adjustments in the workplace.
     
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  7. clg114

    clg114 Still crazy, after all these years. Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    For me, this information is on a 'need to know basis only'. My family and doctors (GP, cardiologist and psychologist) all know that I am on the spectrum. Everyone else just thinks I am weird. In my case employers, just do not need to know.
     
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  8. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    My advice? Don't.

    Need-to-know only and the employer doesn't have a need to know. If there are specific issues in the workplace, let him know about those issues in a very friendly manner.

    Your autism has to be pretty significant for the ADA to give you any protection. That's a question for a disability lawyer and a psychologist to answer.
     
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  9. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Ideally, HR should have this documented, regardless of whether or not you are seeking accommodations. This can be part of your legal defense should you be terminated "without cause" or something happens at work where you respond "inappropriately" (could be anything). HR is NOT supposed to notify your supervisor or manager, or anyone else,...that is between you and HR,...it's supposed to be confidential.

    Whether or not you choose to notify anyone in your department about your diagnosis,...that is up to you,...you know the people you work with. Seriously, some people can be real back-stabbers,...others,...you can trust. I think with regards to this, based upon everyone's individual experiences,...you're going to get a wide variety of answers. Myself,...I am a leader in our department and had been for a better part of 30 years before I was diagnosed,...and I had to seek some mild accommodations due to the CoVID crisis,...it was never an issue beforehand. A handful of people at work know I am autistic,...perhaps more now that it may have come up in break room or private conversations amongst others,...it's not an issue and hasn't affected my relationships. My students at the university know I am autistic,...sometimes it can be good to get ahead of things before they interpret my interactions with them as something it is not,...my choice and experience.
     
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  10. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes V.I.P Member

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    Actually l went thru this with a spouse. Attorneys may not take the case if using ADA act as your legal defense. We were in a small town , went to a bigger city to seek help. The attorney blamed him for a medical condition that clearly wasn't his fault. So it's great this protection is in place but good luck looking for an attorney.
     
  11. Shamar

    Shamar Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Never forget, YOU have not changed from before the diagnosis. You are still the same. The only thing that has changed is a growing understanding of exactly who you are. This can make you stronger. As others have said, only tell those co-workers whom you work with directly. But simply telling them you are autistic may not do a lot of good. You need to tell them how it will affect the way you work with and communicate with them. Being newly diagnosed, you may not know much of this yourself. Browse the threads here and learn. Probably the first thing you will learn is that autism is not a one size fits all condition. I doubt that any two of us are alike, yet we still have commonalities. Learn and enjoy.
     
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  12. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    If you decide to disclose, maybe you should talk to someone in HR (first). And you can ask them about how/if you should communicate your diagnosis to others that you work with or under.
     
  13. chameleonov

    chameleonov New Member

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    I don't think it's a good idea to tell them. The only real issue I had with my last employer is that he pressured me to "be more social with other co-workers" on a regular basis, even after having worked there for years. So, that would be my biggest reason to why I wanted to tell him/her about my asd. But that could easily end up in termination of my employment. And on top of that, a bad reference for the next job. That's serious. Don't want to gamble like that. Right?

    If you told your co-workers. Ask them how you should approach the boss about this. But in general, just let it be. It's bad out there on the labour market as it is. Be happy that you have a job - most of us autistics don't.
     
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  14. Magna

    Magna Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hello. I'm assuming you live in the UK, Canada or Australia by way of your spelling of "labour". I'm not versed in the labor laws of those countries. Can an employer terminate you for not being social enough even if you tell your employer that you're autistic? If that were to happen in the U.S., the wrongfully terminated employee would have legal recourse against their employer by way of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
     
  15. chameleonov

    chameleonov New Member

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    I'm living in Scandinavia. The employer could give me any other bs reason. Blame it on Covid or whatever else. And then fire me on the spot. Happened before. The company CEOs and HR are some of the most dishonest people on the planet. They're like lawyers, they know the law, and how to circumvent it. A lot of the "laws" people hear about out there is fantasy.
     
  16. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    The US has what is known as "at-will employment" with certain limitations. If the employer fires you but has not jumped through all the appropriate bureaucratic hoops, you get to keep your unemployment benefits but not your job. Most of the time people simply get declared surplus and laid off which minimizes their legal exposure and protects your unemployment benefits and any accrued pension.

    I got fired once simply because the crazy lady running the show didn't like me. (The explanation of what happened is pretty bizarre.) I applied for unemployment and was turned down. I appealed the ruling. There had been no record of any disciplinary action and I had a letter from the IT guy thanking me for my assistance on a project they were doing. She was enraged but I got my unemployment.

    There are illegal reasons for firing (or not hiring or not promoting) a person and if you can prove one of those then you have a case to take before the EEOC. One of those reasons is disability and autism is considered a disability. If you can prove wrongful termination because you were terminated due to being autistic, then the EEOC could assist you in getting your job back and/or forcing the ex-employer to pay damages and/or forcing them to revise their personnel policies. If the discrimination is egregious enough, it is possible a private labor law lawyer would take it on. It will be neither quick nor easy but it may be worth it.

    Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Employment: Application of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Title I Standards | ADA National Network

    It is possible for a person to be on the spectrum but not have "disability" pronounced enough to be protected by the ADA. (I am probably one of those.)