"Invisible” Disabilities and the ADA

Wednesday, July 12, 2023
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Eastern Time Zone


When someone has a non-apparent disability, such as diabetes, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, asthma, mental illness or HIV/AIDS, it frequently can raise unique issues for both the employer and the employee. This session will review the legal issues, EEOC guidance and court decisions when "invisible" disabilities are at issue, including pre-employment inquiries and medical examinations, workplace disclosure, reasonable accommodations and confidentiality.

Continuing Education Recognition Available

Certificate Credit hours
Certificate of Attendance 1.5


Paul W. Mollica , Senior Attorney, Civil Rights Team , Equip For Equality

Barry Taylor, VP for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation, Equip for Equality

Rachel Weisberg, Client Assistance Program Manager and Managing Attorney, Equip for Equality

Questions for presenters:

1 What level of accommodations are companies/organizations required to do for people who do not qualify for disability because their medical condition is not severe enough or is too obscure (e.g. mold exposure)?
2 ADHD is prevalent in the population with effects ranging from mild to severe. What qualifies a condition like ADHD for accommodation under the ADA, and what forms of accommodation are considered reasonable?
3 How should accommodations be handled and documented when they may not be needed all the time - for example, for invisible disabilities that vary in severity (ex. chronic pain that has "flare ups" between periods of being more manageable).
4 Does anyone realize how demoralizing and soul-crushing it is, for people with invisible disabilities, like myself, to be forced to BEG & PLEAD & JUMP THROUGH HOOPS, to PROVE to discriminatory, overworked, unempathetic, unqualified and uneducated, “Professionals,” that we need to utilize the benefits that we NEED, TO LIVE INDEPENDENTLY? And, the fact that some people with invisible disabilities, like myself, will need these supports, FOREVER!? Why is no one overseeing these programs and people, who are tasked to determine eligibility for our QUALITY OF LIFE?
5 What is a "reasonable" amount of time for the employer (after you're hired and they've agreed-to provide a necessary accommodation for an invisible disability) to provide the accommodation so you can do your job equally to a person without disabilities? As a deaf employee who needed captions for high-stakes meetings, it took over 6 weeks for the company to provide the accommodations while expecting me to still do my job.
6 Is it "better to be safe than sorry" in terms of providing medical documentation on a disability and necessary reasonable accommodations to an employer? I may be wrong, but under the ADA, I believe that I can simply verbally communicate the necessary accommodations for my disability without disclosing my disability or providing it in writing? Is this true? In my case, I proactively provided a doctor's letter to my new employer that outlined my disability and reasonable accommodations to both my supervisor and HR. My supervisor seemed upset and miffed that I provided such a letter. Why should she be upset? Is there any legal basis as to why I wouldn't want to be specific?
7 At the intersection of ADA and STD, where additional Leave is an accommodation under ADA, when does termination become an option?
8 Please discuss ways a hard of hearing person can get accommodations when applying for a job. (I can’t wait for an accommodation process when I can not hear. I also have arthritis.) Specifically, I need sample verbiage to use when applying for a job to get 100% remote work and communicate solely in writing (email).

Session Questions

This session is accepting questions from registered users. After you have registered to participate in this session you can submit your questions on your Account Manager page. Please note: the number of questions will be limited and submissions will be closed well before the session starts to provide time to prepare answers.