A reader writes:
I’m a senior supervisor in a medium-sized group. We have now, up to now, had some points with the way in which that neurodivergent workers have been handled — not on my group, however because of the method that they’ve been managed by different members of the senior administration group. We’ve twice needed to pay a monetary settlement because of this. I believe that because of the discipline we’re in, we in all probability have extra neurodivergent workers than common.
We’ve been making an attempt to make makes an attempt to enhance on these points, together with just lately appointing a brand new HR director, Jane. Jane and I don’t work very carefully (I’m on the technical aspect of issues) however we did have an intro assembly at which I informed her that I’m autistic. I’ve some minor lodging in place so I assumed that, being answerable for HR, she ought to know. I assumed this could be in confidence as not many individuals within the group know this (solely the CEO and my direct reviews).
Just a few weeks in the past, I came upon from certainly one of my group that, in a gathering, Jane had informed them that I used to be autistic. They already knew however have been shocked at Jane telling them.
I spoke to Jane about this, who mentioned that if we’re to enhance the tradition of the group and change into a friendlier office for neurodivergent folks, then it’s essential that I be open as probably the most senior autistic particular person on workers. She mentioned that I ought to inform folks.
I don’t know the best way to really feel about this. I’m unsure I do really feel snug together with her telling folks. The best way she spoke additionally made me really feel fairly responsible, like I’ve been doing one thing fallacious — and I hate the concept my not being courageous sufficient to be open about being autistic may need contributed to the difficulties that a few of our workers have confronted.
I don’t really feel capable of talk about this with anybody else internally. Our CEO, who I might usually belief for recommendation, has simply gone on three months paternity go away.
Do I’ve an ethical duty to inform everybody I’m autistic? I simply can’t assist feeling uncomfortable about it, however I don’t know if that’s one thing I must work on getting over.
You should not have a duty, ethical or in any other case, to inform folks you’re autistic except you need to.
Jane is horribly off-base and wildly out-of line.
Your personal medical data is your personal medical data. You get to resolve who you share it with, not Jane.
It’s extremely troubling that your head of HR — who was introduced in partly to make your organization a extra welcoming place — so profoundly misunderstands this. Is she additionally going to inform workers with most cancers that they’ve an ethical obligation to share their private well being data with everybody at work even when they don’t need to? How about trans or non-binary workers?
If the corporate needs to enhance its tradition and change into a friendlier place for neurodivergent folks, it’s the firm’s duty to determine how to do this, not the duty of the individuals who have confronted bias and discrimination.
This isn’t about you not being sufficiently courageous, or about you letting down different neurodivergent folks. That is about your firm (a) letting down neurodivergent folks, (b) wrongly telling you to personally repair it, even when it means ignoring your individual instincts, consolation, and security, (c) violating your privateness, and (d) telling you it’s your fault in case you really feel uncomfortable with that.
If you wish to, you can return to Jane and say this: “I regarded into this additional and realized that sharing my prognosis with folks with out my consent violates the confidentiality necessities of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, and I need to make it very clear that you just should not have my permission to share it with anybody else. Give our dialog, I additionally need to make sure that we’re following the legislation and defending different workers’ personal medical data as effectively.”
I hope you’ll additionally take into account elevating it with the CEO as quickly as he’s again from go away in case you assume he’ll be supportive. At a minimal you must level out that the brand new head of HR is flagrantly breaking one of many key legal guidelines she’s imagined to know and implement.