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How to deal with ableism in the workplace

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2018 | Discrimination

The U.S. Census Bureau says that 54 million Americans have a disability. Those in California who are disabled may have to contend with an issue called ableism. This is defined as discrimination that favors those who do not have a disability. Of those between the ages of 16 and 64 who are disabled, there is a 70 percent unemployment rate, and those who can find work report difficulty doing so.

Individuals who are disabled could also have to contend with the fact that their disability is not visible. Employers and colleagues may not even realize that they have a disabled person working for them. To help workers with disabilities, employers could take steps such as recording lectures, offering guide dogs to assist certain workers or creating ergonomic workspaces.

In most cases, those who are disabled have been that way for most of their lives, which means that they aren’t looking for pity. Typically, they are simply looking to be respected for what they can do as a person and employee. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 26,838 charges of disability discrimination in 2017. That was down from 28,073 in 2016, an all-time high. However, companies that have fewer than 15 employees are generally exempt from federal employment rules related to disability discrimination.

Workers who experience discrimination in the workplace may wish to file a complaint with the EEOC or file a lawsuit against their employer. Discrimination may occur if a worker is not given reasonable accommodations such as extra time to complete a task assuming it doesn’t create a danger to others. It may also occur if a worker is not given opportunities to learn new skills or otherwise advance within the company because of their disability.