Employers Discriminate on Disability

Sdsimage A new study showed that employers reject candidates based on disabilities discussed in a cover letter.

Researchers sent cover letters and resumes for accounting positions and found that people who mentioned either a spinal cord injury or Asperger's Syndrome received 26% fewer interview offers than those who didn't mention a disability. The rejection numbers were higher for candidates who had more experience and by companies with fewer than 15 employees (who don't need to comply with federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements).

Although some disabilities may affect job performance, the researchers chose these examples  because they would not likely impact job success in an accounting position.

The study may explain the lower employment rates of adults with disabilities: 34% compared to 74% for people without disabilities. Although the researchers say they expected some evidence of discrimination, they were surprised by the extent. The study abstract concludes,

"The overall pattern of findings is consistent with the idea that disability discrimination continues to impede employment prospects of people with disabilities, and more attention needs to be paid to employer behavior and the demand side of the labor market for people with disabilities."

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • What about the study results surprise you-or not?
  • What is the employer's perspective? Why would they discriminate, particularly against more experienced applicants?