Should I Tell My Boss I Have Adult ADHD?

Many ADHD adults struggle over whether to tell colleagues and superiors they have the disorder. There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to disclosing your disorder in the workplace: “don't ask, don't tell” and “honesty is the best policy.”

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Some ADHD experts, pointing to the all-too-real possibility of discrimination or prejudice in the workplace, believe the “don't ask, don't tell” policy works best for many ADHD adults, especially those who have mild symptoms that are well-managed by medication.

Of course, not telling a supervisor you have a medical condition can backfire if you “cover up” your symptoms with lies or misleading statements, or if you accept a written job description of duties you know will be difficult to achieve because of your symptoms. If your undisclosed symptoms interfere with your ability to perform the job, there's a chance you could be terminated for failing to tell your boss you have adult ADHD.

Fact

While ADHD adults can enjoy some workplace protection from the ADA, the law doesn't guarantee that you'll get the job you desire or that you won't be fired for underperforming. Because the law is extremely complex, it's very difficult for an ADHD adult to sue an employer for discrimination and win under the ADA.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Other experts believe it's better to disclose your disorder. You may be eligible for legal protection offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which could protect you against discrimination because of your disabilities.

The ADA could also help you qualify for special accommodations at work or in the work environment to compensate for your ADHD symptoms. For instance, if you suffer from distractibility, you may be moved from a cubicle to a private office or be permitted to use headsets or white noise machines to eliminate noise. Or, you may be permitted to trade jobs with another employee or move to a vacant position to do a job that is a better fit for you.

Another reason it may simply make sense to disclose your disorder is that many companies require the full disclosure of health issues before hiring, either for security or health insurance coverage purposes. Failing to tell a prospective employer you have adult ADHD could be grounds for not hiring you or for termination.

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