Coping with LD/ADD in the Workplace

Coping with LD/ADD in the Work Place

This page is designed to help you manage your LD/ADD in the work place. Here you will find out about your your legal rights in the workplace, reasonable workplace accommodations, and the often asked question: “Should I tell my employer about my LD/ADD?”

For ease of use, I have divided this page into the following four categories:

Your Legal Rights in the Workforce

In Canada and the United States

To tell or not to tell  – That is the question

Whether or not to tell your employer about your LD/ADD?

Reasonable Workplace Accommodations

What are reasonable accommodations?,
What types of accommodations can you request?,
Interactive accommodation checklist

Other Employment Resources

Web sites, Articles

Your Legal Rights in the Workforce

Do you know what your legal rights are in the work place as an LD/ADD employee?

Here is a whole bunch of information to get you really genned up about your rights in the workplace when it comes to dealing with employers and workmates.

The laws for Canada and the U.S. are different.  You will need to check them individually to find out the differences.

Click on one of the options below:


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Employment Equity Act

Where do I go for help if I feel I am being discriminated against?

United States

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Where do I go for help if I feel I am being discriminated against?


In Canada, your rights are protected by three different legislations:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

  The Canadian Human Rights Act

  The Employment Equity Act.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

  • section 15 (1) gives people with disabilities protection from “…discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability.”
  • section 15(1) protects people with mental disabilities which is interpreted to include learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder
  • under the Charter, prospective employers must give disabled applicants qualified to perform the job, equal opportunity with non-disabled applicants.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act administers the Charter.  As such, it enforces all that is in the Charter but a lot more…

  • forbids discrimination against people with disabilities
  • provides equal access to employment, free from discrimination
  • prohibits the denial of access to reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities
  • provides reasonable accommodations unless the accommodation would impose “undue hardship” (such as exorbitant expense) to the employer
  • states that employees must be able to perform tasks essential to the job either with or without accommodations.  If the employee cannot perform such essential tasks, either with or without accommodation, employers have a bona fide (justified) case to not employ a person.

The Employment Equity Act

The act protects four designated groups from discrimination in the work place:

The four designated groups are:


aboriginal people

visible minorities

        people with disabilities

  • applies to government departments, crown corporations and agencies and businesses and industries employing 100 or more employees conducting business with the federal government. In this respect, it applies to only 10% of the workforce
  • employers are responsible for “identifying and eliminating employment barriers” (such as making reasonable accommodations to ensure persons in the four designated groups are equally represented in the workforce
  • employers must show they have a workforce which is representative of each of the four designated groups

Where do I go for help if I feel I am being discriminated against?

The Human Rights Commission web site has an informative page on how to file a complaint:

“Filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission”

or go to the Human Rights Commission web site in your province:

United States

U.S. citizens are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which outlaws discrimination in the workplace against qualified persons with a disability. Here are the important details of the Act:

  • employers covered by the ADA include those with fifteen or more employees in the private sector, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions
  • the law covers all aspects of  the employment process including recruitment procedures, hiring, training, promotion, compensation and termination
  • to be covered by the ADA, you  must be considered “qualified” for the job.  “Qualified” applicants/employees are able to perform tasks essential to the job either with or without accommodations
  • employers are required to make reasonable accommodations (such as modifying work schedules) for you as long as they do not impose “undue hardships” (such as a crippling cost) on your employer
  • to receive job accommodations or take legal action under the ADA, you must first disclose your disability to your employer and provide official documentation that you have LD/ADD

Where do I go for help if I feel I am being discriminated against?

You can file discrimination charges through:

the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Generally you need to contact them within 180 days from when the alleged discrimination takes place. However some states allow you up to 300 days to file a complaint. To file a complaint you will need to contact the EEOC office near you.

Please also see Other Employment Resources

To tell or not to tell  – That is the question?
Whether or not to tell your employer about your LD/ADD?

Deciding whether or not to reveal your learning disability/ADD may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make. You may worry about the potential pitfalls of revealing your disability (e.g. not getting hired, what they will think of you, not being able to get a promotion). Therefore, revealing your LD/ADD is always a matter of personal choice. It is totally up to you how how much information you share, who you share it with and how you reveal it.

One concern you may have is deciding when to tell your employer about your LD/ADD. Should you tell before the interview, during the interview or after you have been hired? To help you make your decision, here are some positives and negatives for each option.

Positives of revealing your LD/ADD before the interview

  • It is possible your employer is an equal rights employer who is under an employment equity quota which may help your chances of getting an interview
  • If you are called for an interview, you will know that your prospective employer has some understanding of your disability
  • You may feel less nervous about the approaching interview

Negatives of revealing your
LD/ADD before the interview?

Revealing your LD/ADD to a prospective employer on your resume might limit your employment prospects because:

  • You may not be selected for an interview over the competition

  • Your employer may focus solely on your the fact that you have LD/ADD rather than paying attention to the strengths and skills mentioned in your resume. Without being there in person, you will be unable to prove your competency by explaining your abilities and the ways you successfully compensate for your LD/ADD.

Positives of revealing your LD/ADD during the interview

  • you are being totally honest with your employer
  • you will be able to judge how understanding your employer is about your LD/ADD and gauge their willingness to accommodate your needs. These observations will help you decide whether to accept a job offer or not.
  • if your employer is an equal rights employer who is under an employment equity quota it may help your chances of being hired
  • you may assuage any doubts your employer has about your ability to perform the job by providing concrete examples of how you successfully compensate for your LD/ADD
  • Not having to hide your LD/ADD may allow you to make a better job of selling yourself to a prospective employer
  • you may discover just how understanding and accommo- dating a prospectivel employer can be
  • you will be able to request accommodations during the interview itself

Negatives of revealing your
LD/ADD during the interview

  • Your employment prospects may be limited by your employer’s poor understanding of LD/ADD. He/she may see your disability as a personal weakness which would negatively affect your job performance.

  • If you suspect the reason you were not hired is because you revealed your LD/ADD during the interview, there is little recourse under the law because the employer can simply say that there were others more qualified for the job.
  • Your LD/ADD could become the focal point of the conversation preventing you from discussing your ability to do the job.

Positives of revealing your LD/ADD after hiring

  • By law, your employer cannot fire you because you tell them you have LD/ADD
  • Your employer is legally obligated to provide you with reasonable accommodations to enable you to do your job
  • If you are not provided with reasonable accommodations or believe you were unjustly terminated due to your LD/ADD, you can take legal action
  • you no longer have to deal with the stress of trying to hide your LD/ADD from your employer and other co-workers
  • you may experience enhanced work relationships through the fostering of trust and understanding.

Negatives of revealing your
LD/ADD after you have been hired

  • Your employer may feel like you have been dishonest with him/her by not revealing your LD/ADD  before you were hired.

  • Your employer and co-workers may show a lack of understanding about your LD/ADD. They may stereotype you as lazy, dumb, slow, etc.
  • Your employer and/or co-workers may doubt your ability  to perform the job creating a poor work environment
  • You may have trouble getting a promotion, even through your work warrants it
  • Your employer may fail to acknowledge reasonable requests for accommodations
  • In extreme case, your employer may terminate your employment, although you have legal recourse

Reasonable Workplace Accommodations

As mentioned in the legal rights section, your employer must provide you with reasonable accommodations to help you function in the workplace, but what exactly are reasonable accommodations and what kinds can you request?

Please pick one:

What are reasonable accommodations?

What kinds of accommodations can you request?

What are reasonable accommodations?

Accommodations are the methods, techniques, strategies and workplace adaptations that enable you to perform your job. Legal legislation requires accommodations to be reasonable meaning they cannot cause undue hardships for your employer such as crippling costs or safety hazards.

What kinds of accommodations can you request?

There are many different kinds of accommodations that might help you depending on the type of LD/ADD you have. Knowing your specific accommodation needs can help you advocate for yourself in the workplace. You can request a list of LD/ADD workplace accommodations from the Job Accomodation Network (JAN) – there’s 23 pages of excellent information.

To get a better idea about what kind of accommodations you can ask for read about these two adults and their experiences with LD/ADD in the workplace:

Dave’s experience with LD

Tina’s experiences with LD/ADD

Other Employment Resources

Here you will find a whole bunch of employment related links:

Please pick one:

United States – Employment Rights

Canada – Employment Rights

Workplace Accommodations

Job Search Sites

Youth Employment

Interactive Resourses

United States – Employment Rights



U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

U.S. Department of Justice- ADA Home Page


“Disability Discrimination in the Workplace”

By: Nathan Davidovich

ADA Information Centre Online

President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities

Canada – Employment Rights

Canadain Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

The Canadian Human Rights Commission


Find a Human Rights Commission in your area:

AlbertaQuebecOntario, British ColumbiaPrince Edward Island,

New BrunswickSaskatchewanNova Scotia, Manitoba

Workplace Accommodations

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

Article: U.S. Department of Labor

Job Accommodations Come in Groups of One

U.S Department of Labor:

Disability Initiative

Workink (The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work)

Careers Online: 

Dave’s story about coping with LD in the workplace

Careers Online:   

Tina’s story about coping with learning disability and ADD in the workplace

Job Search Sites

Canadian Job Bank

Work Search Canada

Electronic Labour Exchange (Canada)

Job Futures for students and recent graduates seeking employment

America’s Job Bank

Careers On-Line (American) Disability related

Youth Employment

Youth Resource Network of Canada

Youth Options B.C, Canada

Job Corps (American)

Apprenticeship Training (American)

Groundhog Job Shadow Day (American)

Interactive Resources

Identify your Skills

10 step Career Planning (Youth)

Workink Chat Rooms

Workink –  Ask A Disability Specialist

Workink – Chat with an employment counselor

Maze Master – Interests Assessment

The Career Key

Village Career: What’s your work style?

Job Hunt Preparation Checklist (HRDC)

Job Hunt Preparation Checklist: Looking at yourself (HRDC)

Developing a Realistic Budget (HRDC)

Queendom – Personality Tests