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January 27, 2016

Disability Discrimination in the Hiring Process Exposed by Recent Study

Disabled job applicants who disclose their disabilities in cover letters and résumés are far more likely to be the targets of discrimination in the hiring process than other job applicants, a recent study has revealed.

This study, headed up by researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse universities, has been lauded for its groundbreaking methods of assessing disability discrimination without relying on surveys (which tend to be biased by respondents trying to provide socially acceptable answers, rather than factual responses).

Disability Discrimination in the Hiring Process: A Closer Look at the Study’s Methods & Findings

Looking to evaluate the incidence of disability discrimination in the hiring process, researchers developed more than 6,000 fictitious cover letters and résumés. Of these, half were for inexperienced applicants while the other half were for highly qualified candidates.

For each of these categories of résumés and letters, researchers developed three sub-groups, refining the resumes and letters to pertain to applicants who disclosed:

  • No disability or impairment
  • Having Asperger’s syndrome, a cognitive (mental) impairment
  • Having a spinal cord injury, a physical impairment.

They then sent these fake letters and résumés to employers advertising accounting positions. The intent behind applying for accounting jobs, according to researchers, was to eliminate any productivity-based grounds for not hiring disabled applicants.

In analyzing employers’ responses, researchers ultimately found that:

  • Disability discrimination commonly arises in the hiring process – Overall, employers were about 26 percent less likely to show interest in disabled job applicants.
  • Experience matters – Interestingly, however, the finding was that the more experience disabled job applicants had, the less likely employers tended to be in them. In fact, employers were about 34 percent less likely to express interest in highly qualified disabled applicants while they were only about 15 percent less likely to show interest in inexperienced disabled job applicants.
  • The type of disability did not matter – Researchers discovered that employers did not express a significant discrepancy in interest (or disinterest) between mentally versus physically disabled job applicants.
  • Certain employers were more likely to discriminate against disabled applicants – And these employers tended to be those who were not subject to federal discrimination laws and/or who did not regularly apply for or work on government contracts.

Commenting on these findings, Lisa Schur, a Rutgers’ researcher who participated in this study, has explained that:

I don’t think [the research team was] astounded by the fact that there were fewer expressions of interest [for disabled job applicants]… But I don’t think we were expecting it to be as large.

Contact a Los Angeles Discrimination Attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC

If you have been the target of workplace discrimination or harassment, contact a Los Angeles discrimination attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC for a free case to review to find out more about your options for recovery and justice.

Call us at 626-449-4944 or send us an email via this contact form to find out more about how we can help you. If you choose to move forward with us, you will not have to pay us any legal fees until or unless compensation is secured in your case.

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