Disability discrimination in employment not surprising

| Nov 11, 2015 | Workplace Discrimination |

Although some disabilities can limit an individual’s ability to work, many California residents work successfully in spite of them. Unfortunately, many prospective employees face rejection primarily because of their limitations. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research evaluated this issue as researchers sent out more than 6,000 applications from fictional candidates for accounting positions.

Two particular areas of disability were used in the fictional applications. One-third of the fictional applicants were described as having spinal cord injuries and one-third as having Asperger’s syndrome. One-third included no disability information. The disability details were included in the cover letters as the applications were submitted for junior and senior accounting positions. Employer interest was expressed for less than 5 percent of applications from supposed sufferers of Asperger’s or spinal cord injuries. This compares to a positive response rate of 6.6 percent for those applications that did not mention disabilities.

A difference in response levels alone may not be a clear sign of disability discrimination, but it does reflect a potential bias in which disabled job applicants may struggle to find gainful employment. On a national level, the unemployment rate in 2014 for those with disabilities was slightly more than twice the unemployment rate for those who lacked disabilities. One of the major issues that might cause an employer to reject a disabled job candidate is the cost to accommodate that individual in the work setting. Experts indicate that in many cases, accommodations are more affordable to address than employers realize.

There are certain occupations in which a disability might affect a worker’s safety. However, many disabled individuals can be accommodated through renovations of restrooms or the replacement of office furniture. If an employee is permanently disabled in an accident but can continue to do their job, then dismissal could be a cause for a disability discrimination claim filed with the assistance of an attorney.

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