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Applying for job
Apr 10, 2014

I am trying to get back into the workforce after having a stroke (@ age 40) and being diagnosed with AIDS (CD count 12). Some of the applications I have a voluntary section where you can say whether you are disabled. It lists HIV/AIDS as a disability. When I first started completing the applications, I always left this section blank. After looking for a job for 6 months, I am starting to think maybe I should disclose that I have a disability (though not specify what it is). Can this work against you? Would you advise not answering the disability question? On the other hand, any help in finding a job by saying I have a disability might give my resume a second look (at least). Sort of confused on what I should do.

Response from Mr. Chambers

I cannot recommend saying anything on the initial application even if you do require some accommodation to do your job. I'm going to be optimistic here and assume they are asking because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodation" to disabled employees who need some kind of assistance to do their job. While HIV is considered a disability under ADA, I do not believe this is the time to raise the issue.

If the effects of your stroke are visible at all, you may want to remark on that in the interview, emphasizing that it does not interfere with your ability to do the job.

Keep in mind that under ADA, a prospective employee cannot ask you anything about your health other than, "Are you able to perform the job duties of the position?" I'm suspicious of those who would ask the question but get around the law by making it "optional."

However, there is no provision under ADA that gives a disabled person preference over other applicants. Unless the employer states that they do give such preference, I would not mention it. There is just too great of a tendency for the company to go with the applicant who won't cost them money.


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