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Navigating Disclosure for Patients

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Navigating Disclosure for Patients
  • Choosing to disclose your medical condition with family, friends, or at work is a personal decision and should only be made after thoughtful consideration of many factors.
  • This guide can help you make educated disclosure decisions and to help you avoid situations where you might unintentionally disclose your medical condition.
Disclosure At Work - Legal Protections At Work
In GeneralGenerally, you are not required to share your medical condition with an employer or potential employer. This means you can make conscious decisions about if you want to share your medical information at work, how much, and when.
However, there are times when you may need to share some medical information with your employer:
  • If you want to use the ADA or state law protections against discrimination, you must provide some information about your medical condition.
  • If you are asking for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or state law, you need to explain why you need an accommodation.
  • If you are requesting FMLA leave, you need to explain why you need the time off work.  
Information your employer is entitled to, if you ask for reasonable accommodations or FMLA leave:
  • Your employer is entitled to a medical certification from a healthcare provider to show why you are eligible for a reasonable accommodation or FMLA leave.
  • Your employer only needs as much information as necessary to show that you are eligible for reasonable accommodation or FMLA leave.

For more information on reasonable accommodations, see the Working with a Medical Condition and Taking Time Off micro-module

Resources To Help Make Disclosure Decisions At WorkIf you are choosing to disclose some of your medical information at work, there are some resources that you may find helpful:
  • Employer Policies: Your employer may have an employee handbook or policies and procedures document that describes your employer’s rules about benefits and taking time off.
  • Your Supervisor or HR: Your supervisor or a human resources professional can also assist you with getting and completing medical certification forms.
  • Health Care Team: It is also important to have an honest discussion with your health care team about how much information you would like shared with your employer in medical certification forms for a reasonable accommodation or FMLA leave. If you aren’t clear with your health care team about your wishes, they may unintentionally disclose more than you wanted.
Disclosure With Family, Friends, Co-workers, and Others
  • You may want to disclose your medical condition to your family members, friends, or co-workers, which can give you support through treatment and recovery.
  • Once you decide whom to share your medical condition with, you should tell them your preferences around what you are choosing to disclose, so that they won’t share your information with others against your wishes.
  • These disclosure decisions can also come up when a family member or a friend wants to host an online fundraiser on your behalf, to help pay for your medical costs. If you have concerns about sharing your medical condition publicly, you may want to consider other options besides crowdfunding.

For more information on Crowdfunding, please visit TriageHealth.org/quick-guides/crowdfunding/

Online Disclosures
  • You may have an online “footprint” that includes your activity on social media platforms, blogs, websites, and any other place where information about you is shared online.
  • But, it is important to remember that sharing your medical condition online makes the information public and many employers can search the internet (e.g., social media platforms) to research job applicants and employees.
  • If you are concerned about disclosure, there are some options that provide more privacy and allow you to only invite certain people, such as CaringBridge.org and MyLifeLine.org

For more information on Disclosure at work and other legal protections, please visit TriageHealth.org/quick-guides/disclosure/

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is intended for U.S. residents only and is provided purely for educational purposes. Health, legal, regulatory, insurance, or financial related-information provided here is not comprehensive and is not intended to provide individual guidance or replace discussions with a healthcare provider, attorney, or other experts. All decisions must be made with your advisers considering your unique situation. © Triage Cancer & Pfizer Inc. 2024 

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