To Disclose or Not to Disclose, that is the question!

It has been a bad year.  You were diagnosed with an illness, you filed for divorce and as a result, you are bankrupt and now need to file Chapter 7.  You try hard not to let your personal life affect your life at work, but sometimes it just does.  So, do you tell your boss and co-workers what you are going through and risk the reaction and consequences or do you continue on and deal with issues as they come up?  This is not a very easy decision.  Employees worry about keeping their jobs during this rather difficult economic time.  Employers want honesty and performers on their team.  Are you required to say anything? 

In general terms, you are most likely safe if you choose to keep your personal situation to yourself as there are no federal laws that require you to disclose personal issues. There are, however, a few exceptions.  Such as:  1.) if you have an illness that could endanger the lives of others through either workplace accidents or exposure to your condition. 2.) you are requesting accommodation through the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). 3.) if you ask for time off using the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  In these cases, you are better off informing management and may be required to do so.  If you do, we suggest working out a plan with your management that benefits all if you request accommodations.  Perhaps this is the opportunity to work from home on days you are more ill than others.  Maybe it is a reduction in hours or a modified work schedule. If you decide to disclose personal issues with management other than medical, the best approach is an open and honest approach with a desire to find a solution.