Disclosing Ostomy to New Employer: When and How?

May 23, 2019 6:31 pm

Hey all, I'm looking for advice here. I'm looking at possibly making a job change, is the fact I have an ostomy something that needs to be brought to the attention of a new employer? If so, when is the right time to disclose this? I feel like it's something that should be discussed at some point with someone, but when/who is what I'm struggling with. I don't feel like my ostomy holds me back, but I don't want it to become the reason I didn't get a job.

May 23, 2019 6:57 pm

The potential employer may request a medical and that would be the time.

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May 23, 2019 8:06 pm

Your potential employer does not need to know you have had your plumbing altered.

It will not affect your ability to do the job.

If you are the right person for the position, you should get the job.

If you feel the need to disclose, maybe wait until you are settled in.

Good luck.


Past Member
May 23, 2019 8:31 pm

Hey there Sasquatch, I would wait until you get hired simply because it's not necessarily the business of the employer. And they cannot give you grief over your ostomy because then it would be discrimination of a disability. And you could fight that easily. Hope that helps.

Morning glory
May 24, 2019 12:48 am

Hi, I worked for a couple of places after my surgery. I did not tell them about my ostomy. I disclosed it once in a job interview, and was questioned about it. I didn't get that job. It may or may not have played a part in my not getting the job. I decided then that I would not discuss it again in an interview. Employers are by law not allowed to discriminate, but I think some do. After you prove yourself to be a valued employee, you may be inclined to disclose. I never did.

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May 24, 2019 5:10 am

Maybe it's me, but I see no reason to disclose this very personal information except on a need to know basis. Unless your ostomy affects how you do your job, or requires an accommodation, this is personal information. Disclosing you have/had cancer is not something I would disclose at a job interview, unless that fact was relevant and germane to the particular position. And when appropriate or necessary the particulars and specifics are a bit too much information, in my humble opinion.

May 24, 2019 4:48 pm


You have the right to privacy where your medical concerns are. I think it is unlawful to request a medical history. Drug screening, maybe, but not your medical history. There are some employers that are self-insured and their rates are based on the use of the benefits. They would see you as a high-cost user of the benefits and may not hire you solely on that. They also are ignorant of what your medical needs are and will always assume that it will get in the way of your performance. I say never, unless you have been there and something comes up that the need to know changes!

Past Member
Jun 04, 2019 12:53 pm

I've had an ileostomy for 44 years and have never disclosed this to an employer. It is none of their business.

Jun 04, 2019 2:22 pm

Puppyluv makes a very valid point. Self-insured or not, you might be seen as a higher cost user of benefits and that's a negative. The interviewer (who probably has no experience of ostomies) may misunderstand your condition and see it as a negative, otherwise why did this guy bring it up? I don't see anything to enhance your chances for the job in telling them. Would you have considered telling them about any other operation in your past?

Jun 04, 2019 2:37 pm

Depends on the job. If it is a physical job, I would mention it but let them know it doesn't hold you back from doing the job. If it is an office type position, I never told them until after I got the job and only told the boss so in case something happened at work for some reason they would know.

Marilyn Flowers
Jun 04, 2019 4:24 pm

Hi, I've had an ostomy for 55 years (since I was 15). It never entered my mind to mention an ostomy to anyone in the workplace. My ostomy never got in the way of performing any of the jobs I ever had -- from waitress to newspaper editor to college professor. May the force be with you on your future job!

Jun 04, 2019 4:32 pm

Coincidentally, my emergency operation that resulted in my colostomy was a year ago today...so everyone in my office (all 65 of them) pretty much knew about it! The only result is a whole lot of people being much more concerned about their intestinal health, which is a good thing.

Jun 04, 2019 5:29 pm

Do you require any type of reasonable accommodations? I have shared on a need-to-know basis, as I tend to keep my personal health challenges private to avoid any type of discrimination.

Jun 05, 2019 2:22 am

This excerpt from an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) publication says it all. My take is that you don't have a disability (I have an ostomy and do not consider myself to have a disability). However, even if it was considered a disability, you would be covered by the ADA. Since I presume you do not need any accommodation, it is really a non-issue and I would not disclose it.

Per the EEOC - "If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don't.

To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working."

Jun 05, 2019 7:23 am

I am with KenMatt. It is none of your employer's business. It's not a disability, and even if it was, it would be illegal to discriminate against you on that basis. But first and foremost, it's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

Happy Jack
Jun 20, 2019 6:37 am

I have been working as a temp for 12 years, so I change my job often, but I never bother mentioning my colostomy at any interview and have rarely mentioned it to any colleagues. My CV states that I was off work for 18 months while being treated and recovering from cancer, but no one has ever brought this up at any of the interviews I have had since my recovery. My colostomy has no relevance to my ability to do the job and I doubt yours does either.