To maintain a claim for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate, it is critical that the employee in question requests an accommodation and makes his or her disability known to the employer's decision makers, especially then the nature of the disability is not obvious (obvious disabilities include being in a wheelchair, missing a limb, being known to be deaf, etc...). Many employees make the mistake of going too far when guarding the confidentiality of their medical condition, and they don't disclose even the general nature of their non-obvious disability (for instance, diabetes, asthma, etc.) because they are so concerned about their privacy. This kind of strategy is misguided, as that employee will have little to gain but a lot to lose from being protective of his medical information in the context of expecting accommodations. An employer simply cannot be expected to provide reasonable accommodations and to enforce other disability rights of a disabled employee if the company is not aware of the underlying medical condition. Placing the employer on formal notice of your condition by providing medical documentation with diagnosis and suggested modifications/accommodation will be really helpful to the employer who wishes to do the right and comply with disability laws and to that employee who has to battle the bad employer who either intentionally or due to ignorance of its management is not willing to comply with the same laws.
For more information on disability rights, please visit my San Francisco Employment Lawyer Blog.