Does Employment Discrimination Exist Towards People with Disabilities?

Is it harder to get a job if you are a person with a disability? It depends on who you ask. If you ask a person like myself I would say yes. I believe employment discrimination still exists. Actually, the government even devotes a whole month to encouraging employment for people with disabilities every November. Since this is such an important topic, I’ve not only addressed disability discrimination but also the top ten companies for people with disabilities.

What is Disability Discrimination?
“Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability.

Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission) or because she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if she does not have such an impairment).

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.

Note: Federal employees and applicants are covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instead of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The protections are mostly the same.”


Portion of an article from the EEOC website.

Disability Discrimination at Work as explained by Disabled World:

“It is against the law for an employer:

  • to harass you if you are disabled, for example, by making jokes about your disability
  • not to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to enable you to work or to continue to work.
  • to treat you less favourably because of your disability – including recruitment and selection, terms and conditions, dismissal and redundancy.
  • to discriminate directly against you if you are disabled or because you are associated with someone who is disabled, for example, your partner or child.
  • to victimise you if you take legal action because of discrimination against you, or if you help someone else to take legal action because of discrimination.

Employers can treat disabled people less favourably only if they have a sufficiently justifiable reason for doing so, and only if the problem cannot be overcome by making ‘reasonable adjustments’. For example, an employer would be justified in rejecting someone with severe back pain for a job as a carpet fitter, as they cannot carry out the essential requirements of the job.

Examples of the types of adjustments that an employer might make include:

  • making physical adjustments to the premises
  • transferring you to a different post or work place
  • supplying special equipment to help you do your job
  • altering your hours of work or giving you extra time off.

List of Disability Discrimination Acts

Disability Discrimination Information from Disabled World

Let’s focus on a more positive spin, here is the list of top ten companies to work for if you have a disability by Diversity, Inc.

2013 Top Ten Companies for People with Disabilities

1. Ernst & Young
2. Procter & Gamble
3. IBM
5. WellPoint
6. AT&T
7. Kaiser Permanente
8. Prudential Financial
9. Microsoft
10. Accenture

I would love to hear from people with disabilities that work for one of these companies.  I would like to know if you agree with the list.  I also would like to hear the pros and cons of working for these companies as a person with a disability.  What makes these 10 companies stand out?

I would like an ongoing discussion regarding employment in the disability community.  Feel free to post any comments!

– Sharina

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