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Eva LaManna on September 27, 2013
One issue that we frequently get asked about when we talk to survivors is whether or not they should disclose their cancer diagnosis in job interviews. While this is not a black or white answer, we generally advise our audience not to discuss their diagnosis in a cover letter or interview, since at those stages, it will usually be difficult figuring out and/or proving why you didn't advance to the next round.
A recent article in the New York Times, Quandary of Hidden Disabilities, echoes this advice when it states that revealing a disability in an interview should be avoided if possible. However, the author also notes that, in the case of interviewees who might need a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the interview, it may be beneficial or even necessary to reveal a disability that may not be obvious or visible. While you are under no obligation to disclose, if you need an accommodation under the ADA, it may be important to alert a potential employer to this. Otherwise you risk not being hired if the employer doesn't know the reason behind certain behavior. For example, a young woman profiled in the article didn't want to disclose hearing loss and ended up not getting the job because she couldn't hear what the employer was asking her when the interview moved to a crowded restaurant.
For more information on interview methods and tips after a diagnosis, check out our articles on job hunting after a cancer diagnosis here. And to learn more about the ADA and whether you might qualify for a reasonable accommodation, read up on your legal rights in the workplace and visit the Job Accommodation Network.