Ask the Experts

Am I Protected on the Job If I Tell My Boss?

“I am an adult who has trouble finishing assignments at work. I have thought about asking for accommodations to help me do a better job, but I don’t want to reveal that I have ADHD. Does the law protect me from discrimination if I tell my boss I have the condition?”

Worried ADHD angry office worker at the desk
Worried ADHD angry office worker at the desk

Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal civil rights law, prohibits discrimination against individuals with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Included in “major life activities” are “concentrating, thinking … and working.” Your employer is required to provide you with “reasonable accommodations” to enable you to do your job despite your ADHD, but there are several caveats:

  • You must work for a business with 15 or more employees
  • You must disclose your disability to your employer
  • Your employer has the right to require proof of your disability (which is relevant for a non-obvious disability like ADHD).

Depending on the size of your company and the nature of their business, you may also (or alternatively) be protected under state law or other federal laws.

How do you get started? First, make sure you have up-to-date written documentation of your ADHD from your physician or psychologist, which should include your diagnosis, an explanation of how this condition affects your work, and what kinds of accommodations you require to do your job properly. Share this information with your boss or human resources department. Discuss the services you need and what they can do to help you be successful. This can include things like a less-distracting work environment, use of technology to help you stay organized, and possibly a coach or mentor.