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Disability leave: Is it part of your public records?

If you take a disability leave, will future employers know it? @Davidlaz has the answer

Alex is facing the possibility of a disability leave from work. He's wondering if something like that will stay on his public records.

You can see why Alex or anyone else facing a similar situation would be concerned. In a tight job market, you might not want a future employer to know that you had to take time off in the past.

That, of course, is unfortunate. Though there's plenty of fraud among disability claims, there are also many legitimate claims that shouldn't reflect poorly on a person's work record.

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But I suspect most of us would prefer to keep a past disability leave to ourselves if we were looking for a new gig.

The laws for this sort of thing vary from state to state. In California, you're entitled to some privacy.

Initial workers' compensation claims are not public records. Claims become public only when or if they're appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

The California Labor Code prohibits workers' comp records from revealing personally identifiable information when accessed by anyone who wasn't party to the claim.

That said, employers can access workers' comp records, but only after a job offer has been made. They can't pull the offer based on what they find in your record -- unless something turns up that you failed to disclose during the hiring process.

So here's the bottom line: If you've taken a legitimate leave of absence for disability reasons, you should be comfortable explaining the situation.

If a potential employer asks if you've ever taken such a leave, disclose it. If you're not asked, there's no obligation for you to delve into the past.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a good rundown of your rights in this regard. You can find it here.

If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz


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