The Cornell Just-in-Time Toolkit for Managers

Tips, checklists, and resources to help managers lead a disability inclusive workforce.

Topic #5
An Employee Just Told Me About a Disability:
What Do I Do Now?
1. The first thing a manager needs to consider when an employee discloses a disability is to ensure that the interactive process to find a reasonable accommodation is set into motion.
2. When an employee simply says he has a health condition that impacts his work, but does not specifically mention accommodation, the manager should take a “wait and see” attitude.
3. As much as possible, a manager should handle disability issues herself.
4. When an employee first tells you about a disability, the important thing is to start by listening.
5. A manager has a right to know what medications an employee is taking while on the job.
6. This remark from an employee should trigger the accommodation process, “I’m going to need to leave a little early because I have to drive all the way to the VA hospital to get my treatments.”
7. The manager should inform all co-workers when an employee has a disability so that work is not interrupted.
8. An employee with bipolar disorder would not be considered a direct threat to others unless there was a reasonable belief based on evidence that this employee posed a probable danger to others.
9. When an employee comes forward with a disability, the first thing a manager should do is make a note of this into the employee’s personnel records.
10. Building an atmosphere of trust is a key to ensuring that employees with disabilities can fully contribute their talents and skills to business goals.