Wedding Woes

Disability, gender, and job applications.

Dear Prudence,

I’ve been applying to jobs for many months now. I have a disability and am genderqueer. Many jobs have boxes to check to disclose a disability, which I do because I have to tell them at some point, but a co-worker at a previous job once told me our boss said she wouldn’t have hired me if she’d known beforehand (illegal but true). I have also been checking the box that says I don’t disclose my gender because there are only ever male and female options. I almost never hear back from these applications, which I know is part of applying online, but I can’t tell if I’m screwing myself over by disclosing these things about myself. Should I just check a gender box even if it’s not accurate?

—Honesty in Applying

Re: Disability, gender, and job applications.

  • I would never tell anyone to hide anything about their identity or live in a way that isn’t true for them. 

    However the USA is still an ableist, homophobic country where companies make illegal hiring decisions all the time. I wouldn’t disclose a pregnancy when I was applying for a job because even though it’s not legal for them to discriminate you can bet that it happens all the time. LW needs to weigh the possibility that they are being screened out (which is wrong, illegal, and all kinds of effed up). I would see out progressive companies, but knowing they also have effed up hiring practices. 
    mrsconn23VarunaTTlevioosashort+sassy
  • In Canada this happens also ... HOWEVER if there are ways to semi-prove these are the causes, you can take the case to basically a labour board and they investigate.

    Unfortunately I don't see this changing very soon, but hopefully people accept people as is and ignore the situation they think they have
    short+sassy
  • Unfortunately, while there are many protected classes within employment law...in the real world...they don't matter much.  Especially when people aren't even invited to an interview.  Because the vast majority of people who send their resume/apply for a job, don't get an interview.  I've also heard discrimination lawsuits are really tough to prove.

    Like @charlotte989875, I wouldn't necessarily tell someone they should "lie" (for lack of a better word) on an application.  But if they want to about something they feel could lead to discrimination, I don't think there is anything wrong with it either.

    Though kind of depends on how the question is worded.  I have a major disability.  I would never disclose that on an application.  But quite frankly, I have also NEVER seen it.  So, I gotta admit, that sent up a bs flag for me.  At least I've never seen it as a blanket, general question on an application.  Just on (sometimes) New Hire paperwork.

    Now, what an application question might say is...usually related to an already stated qualification of the job..."Can you sit or stand for long periods of time with reasonable accommodation?"  Or "Can you lift up to 50 lbs. with reasonable accommodation?"  So, yes, the LW needs to answer those questions honestly.  And if their disability precludes them from being able to perform the basic tasks of a job.  Well, then, sorry.  I know it sucks.  But that falls under the category of "life is unfair". 

    Because, here's the deal.  Even members of protected classes have to be able to do the core qualifications of the job.

    For example, due to my disability, I am ineligible to get any kind of commercial driver's license or pilot's license.  Since I can't get the appropriate license, I can't pursue any of those kinds of careers.
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  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Unfortunately, while there are many protected classes within employment law...in the real world...they don't matter much.  Especially when people aren't even invited to an interview.  Because the vast majority of people who send their resume/apply for a job, don't get an interview.  I've also heard discrimination lawsuits are really tough to prove.

    Like @charlotte989875, I wouldn't necessarily tell someone they should "lie" (for lack of a better word) on an application.  But if they want to about something they feel could lead to discrimination, I don't think there is anything wrong with it either.

    Though kind of depends on how the question is worded.  I have a major disability.  I would never disclose that on an application.  But quite frankly, I have also NEVER seen it.  So, I gotta admit, that sent up a bs flag for me.  At least I've never seen it as a blanket, general question on an application.  Just on (sometimes) New Hire paperwork.

    Now, what an application question might say is...usually related to an already stated qualification of the job..."Can you sit or stand for long periods of time with reasonable accommodation?"  Or "Can you lift up to 50 lbs. with reasonable accommodation?"  So, yes, the LW needs to answer those questions honestly.  And if their disability precludes them from being able to perform the basic tasks of a job.  Well, then, sorry.  I know it sucks.  But that falls under the category of "life is unfair". 

    Because, here's the deal.  Even members of protected classes have to be able to do the core qualifications of the job.

    For example, due to my disability, I am ineligible to get any kind of commercial driver's license or pilot's license.  Since I can't get the appropriate license, I can't pursue any of those kinds of careers.
    It's been about 3 years since I've really been in the job market, but during my last search nearly every large company I applied to used the same third party provider for candidate applications. I specifically recall that the applications always had that federal form where they ask for demographic information, including whether you have a disability, are a veteran, etc. 

    My understanding was that the forms were not supposed to be included with a hiring packet, but rather the data is reported in aggregate to the EEOC, but someone closer to employment probably knows more than I do. As I recall, "decline to answer" was always an option, and my go-to. 
    charlotte989875
  • @MyNameIsNot, that's the form I'm thinking of!  Hmmm...maybe I am mixing up when I see them.  They always have that disclaimer but, especially if the application or New Hire paperwork is handed back in person, it's impossible NOT to see the answers when an HR person is checking to make sure all the paperwork is there.  It shouldn't be seen at all if the applications are online.  But that's also assuming a company is doing what they are supposed to.

    I still think the LW is seeing something that isn't there, if they are only talking about online applications.  Not that bias and discrimination don't exist.  But, just like you mentioned that you choose "decline to answer", I'd think that's a fairly common choice anyway.

    As an aside, I have belonged to a lot of online survey companies for years.  They pay me for filling out surveys.  Sometimes send products to try.  Yada, yada.  I've noticed a change over the last 6 months or so for the gender choice.

    Previously, it was always male or female.  Sometimes with a "choose not to answer" choice also.

    Now, the choices tend to be "male/identify as male" or "female/identify as female".  Non-binary is also usually a choice.  Not as often, but I've also sometimes seen trans choices, though I forget how they phrase those.  
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    MyNameIsNot
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