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I'm working in a small team at a (growing) startup, and have been asked about a developer applying who worked at my previous company. He started after I left, so I didn't get to know him personally. However, I get on well with my former colleagues and had met them occasionally, so I'd heard some rumors.

So I got in touch, and now found out that person has narcolepsy. I am not sure this will work out well at my company, but I've noticed he does not seem to have informed them of this condition. Which is probably fair enough, given there hasn't even been an interview yet.

Now I wonder whether I should mention this to the hiring manager. Could this be considered foul play? Would it be considered unethical? Would knowing this compromise the hiring process?

My thinking is the likelihood of this working out well is higher if my company and manager know the actual condition beforehand. Then again, this may only be true if the applicant decides to mention it.

Any advice is appreciated. The country is UK, for what it's worth

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    Now I wonder whether I should mention this to the hiring manager. Could this be considered foul play? Would it be considered unethical? Would knowing this compromise the hiring process? - Wow. All kinds of red flags are popping up. Is it legal for your ex-colleague to have disclosed this information to you? It probably isn't. Is it legal for you to disclose this information? It probably isn't. I'd recommend that you tread very carefully and that you consider removing yourself completely from this situation. – joeqwerty Jun 17 at 21:06
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    Sounds like an easy lawsuit loss if a decision is made to not hire based on that information. – Joe W Jun 17 at 21:19
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    not dupe but related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/137187/… This discussion might provide what community here considers professional/ethical – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Jun 17 at 22:01
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    No. Under no circumstances should you mention you had a clue. In today's environment, this smells like a lawsuit. – Keith Jun 17 at 22:05
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    How about hiring people for their skills and ability instead of focusing on their presumed deficiencies? This is precisely why there are laws in place to protect the job applicants from discrimination. – jcmack Jun 18 at 2:52
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Please don't be a lousy human being by mentioning rumors like that. If the guy has a medical condition it is up to him to manage it, it shouldn't affect his ability to do the job if he can manage it or otherwise come to some arrangement with management. It is simply NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

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The professional behavior is to not share privileged information, as well as rumors. There are enough cases when you heard something that is made up. It is also professional to ignore when people tell you rumors or share information about somebody's physical conditions. I usually say that it is not important, ask not to be involved, and try to remove myself from the conversation. I don't like to spend time with people who might speculate about my health one day.

You should ask a lawyer about what is legal. I suspect that UK has similar disability protections as the US, and as long as applicant passes doctor's exam required for the job, it is not an issue. For example, truck drivers have to be cleared by physician. Using medical conditions to make hiring decisions might be illegal.

If you are a friend of someone with condition X, and you think that it should be disclosed to prospective employer, you are free to advise your friend.

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    +1 for professionalism and the distinction between job types. Here in the UK, there are state benefits (mainly the "Disability Living Allowance" and "Personal Independence Payments") paid dependent on the severity. As narcolepsy is recognized as a disability, it strongly suggests that discrimination is unlawful. Keep it to yourself and instead ask how long was he at your previous company and why did he leave. All the usual questions. – Justin Jun 17 at 22:28
  • @Justin FYI the DLA has been effectively replaced by the PIP now - DLA is only applicable to under 16s so the distinction is on age rather than severity. Severity affects how much and which parts of the PIP you get. – motosubatsu Jun 18 at 9:42
  • @motosubatsu - so it has; thanks for the correction. I haven't had to deal with this for a while now, so have not kept up-to-date. – Justin Jun 18 at 10:08
  • @Justin no worries - I think it's a pretty recent change and the fact that DLA still exists (just in a different niche) makes it all the more confusing. I only know about it because I had dealings with it last year :) – motosubatsu Jun 18 at 10:10
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Now I wonder whether I should mention this to the hiring manager.

No. You wouldn't be doing anyone a favor, not the candidate, not your employer and not yourself.

Could this be considered foul play?

Certainly

Would it be considered unethical?

Most definitely You are disclosing someones personal medical/disability information to a potential employer without their knowledge and more importantly without their consent. And because you think it "wouldn't work out well" you are doing it with the intent to influence the hiring process - if they do treat the person's candidacy unfavorably as a result of that it that goes beyond unethical into straight up illegal under the Equality Act.

Would knowing this compromise the hiring process?

Maybe, maybe not. Your employers might be good people and not let it affect them. Or they could choose to discriminate against this candidate on this basis. Possibly they may even feel pressured to hire this candidate even if they wouldn't otherwise have done so because of fear that their illegitimate knowledge of the disability would come to light later and they could get hauled over the coals at tribunal. It's very hard to prove that the knowledge of the disability didn't factor in to any decision not to hire them.

My thinking is the likelihood of this working out well is higher if my company and manager know the actual condition beforehand.

That's not your call to make.

  • Great answer except for the signalling that there is a one-to-one mapping between "being a good person" and "not letting it affect you[r decision-making]". Things just aren't that simple, and you're effectively calling a bunch of good people bad people ;) – Lightness Races with Monica Jun 23 at 13:18
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It is not your place to pass along information about a candidate's personal situation. Please do not do it!

Why not?

  • You don't know the guy.
  • Your knowledge of the situation is not certain. What if you have it wrong?
  • It's his business to disclose, or not. Not yours.
  • You (probably) don't have training in the way companies must accommodate workers with disabilities. You could put your own company into a tight spot by talking about this without knowing the rules of fairness.

Seriously. Let it be.

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