Julia, a professional woman in her mid-thirties, has had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis as a part of her life for the last five years. Now she must decide whether to disclose her hidden illness at work. Julia disclosed her illness to her manager in a prior employment, when her MS was first diagnosed, and experienced a supportive response. But she was always mindful that her performance would likely be carefully scrutinized since she was in a job that required strict deadlines. Julia made a career change about a year ago, and did not tell anyone in her new organization that she had MS. She avoided the issue during the hiring process, and deliberately refrained from informing her manager during her probationary period. She made lifestyle and workplace accommodations on her own to compensate for her disability. She was concerned about confidentiality and others’ perceptions of her as a person with a disability. Julia’s current decision was precipitated by changes in her health care coverage. Access to expensive drugs was a key factor in managing her illness, and she needed information in order to make her decision. This impending decision made her think again about whether she should disclose her illness, and to whom. Others who will be immediately impacted by her decision include her manager, coworkers and friends at work, human resource professionals, and her husband.
Gumbus, A. & Woodilla, J. (2004). Julia's dilemma. Organization Management Journal, 1(1), 19-26. doi: 10.1057/omj.2004.7