When notifying my employer that my doctor is recommending that I go out on short-term disability, do I have to disclose my diagnosis?

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When notifying my employer that my doctor is recommending that I go out on short-term disability, do I have to disclose my diagnosis?

I am concerned about disclosing that my reason for short-term disability is clinical depression. I am a controller for a small organization with only about 20 full-time employees. I handle HR and I’m not sure whom I would notify and if it could done by e-mail? I’m not comfortable telling my supervisor that just started at the end of December or the President who has only been with us for a short time. I am worried about the stigma associated with depression affecting my career at this organization and my future employability.

Asked on February 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you would have to disclose the diagnosis, at least in general terms (i.e. you don't necessarily need to go into all details):

1) First, the doctor has no authority over the employer; the employer is not required to simply accept the doctor's recommendation at face value without inquiring into the facts, condition, issues, etc.

2) Second, your rights and the employer's obligations depend in large part on the nature and severity of the condition, and also whether or not it can be traced to some injury at work; the employer therefore needs to know, and has a right to know, what the condition is, so it can comply with its obligations under the law.


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