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Disability Discrimination

The only disability in life is a bad attitude. Scott Hamilton


When it comes to disabilities and stereotypes, many of them are with regard to the level of how much one is physically, mentally, or emotionally capable of performing. As with all other stereotypes, this mindset can be damaging to the one who is being talked about, as well as the one doing the talking, as limiting another’s abilities, can result in lost productivity.

Employer Responsibilities

When posting jobs, companies cannot use wording that openly discriminates against people with disabilities. Additionally, they cannot require candidates to disclose any disabilities. They may request the information, but not force candidates to respond. Although employers cannot dismiss candidates on the sole basis of disability, if one has a disability that will prevent the individual from performing essential job duties even if accommodations are provided, the employer may seek other candidates that are more qualified.

If an individual with a disability is hired, the company must make ample effort to ensure the employee has any accommodations necessary to perform their job. In addition, the employee cannot be paid less because of the disability. In addition to the above, employees with disabilities are protected when it comes to:

  • Firing
  • Promotion
  • Benefits
  • Training
  • Job assignments
  • Leave
  • Lay-off

HR and Best Practices

It is unlawful for HR to ask an applicant:

  • Whether or not he/she is disabled, or the extent of a disability

Upon interviewing applicants, HR should ask questions as to an applicant’s ability to perform specific actions related to the required tasks.  These questions cannot be “disability” formatted.   All questions, both before hiring and after, must be job-related.

  • To take a health examination, before offering a position to him/her

Once the position is offered, a medical examination can be required, if all other applicants are required to take the same examination.  After the hiring process is complete, a medical examination cannot be required of an employee unless of the instance of a job transfer and the new position requires one.

Elephant in the Room

Just like any other group of people, there are many stereotypes concerning persons with disabilities.   And just like any other stereotypes, these too are false.  These generalizations are based on ideas and assumptions that are completely unfounded.  Ideas such as “disabled people need all of our sympathy.”   This statement is the opposite of the truth.  Disabled people do not want sympathy, rather a fair chance at the same lives that everyone else enjoys.

Some of the other stereotypes include that disabled people are:  slow, dumb, unproductive, unfriendly, socially backwards, and many, many more.  Disabled people are able to perform the same tasks as other unaffected employees, if given the chance.

Overcoming Stereotypes

One way for a company to overcome the stereotypes regarding persons with disabilities, is to foster a work culture that is inclusive and diverse.  Starting from the top of the organization, down to the last person hired, everyone must be sensitive to the issues surrounding disabilities.

A work culture that supports disabled employees should include:

  • A diverse and inclusive work force that includes employees with different abilities.
  • A well-designed compliance and anti-harassment program.
  • Sensitivity or diversity training for all employees, including management.
  • Employee educational items such as posters, pamphlets, handbooks, etc.


Copyright Notice 

Copyright © 2015 by Global Courseware, Inc.

Used under licensing permission