We Fight For Employee Rights

Some myths about disability and employment

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Disabilities, Workplace Discrimination

Only about one in five of the people with a disability participate in the Rhode Island labor force. Among people without a disability, the work force participation rate is 67%. Employers are sometimes reluctant to hire disabled job applicants because they are worried that productivity will be negatively affected or that making the required reasonable accommodations for them would be expensive, but these opinions are not supported by data. If employers took time to learn the facts, they would find that most of the common reasons for not hiring disabled workers are based on myth.

Improved productivity

The belief that disabled workers are less productive cannot withstand close examination. When a leading professional services firm and the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability studied the productivity levels in 140 American companies, their researchers discovered that businesses with disability inclusion programs were more productive. Their revenues were an average of 28% higher than other companies, and their net profits were about twice as high. When Walgreens opened a distribution center with a disability workforce participation rate of over 30%, it soon became 20% more efficient than the pharmacy chain’s other distribution centers. It also had far lower employee turnover.

Reasonable accommodations

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. When employers are worried about the costs of making reasonable accommodations, disabled workers may face employment discrimination. These concerns influence the hiring decisions of about one in five employers in the United States, but they are based on fear rather than facts. Most accommodations for disabled workers cost nothing according to the U.S. Job Accommodation Network, and the expenses that are incurred are usually one-time costs that add value and increase productivity.

Basing employment decisions on myth

Disabled job applicants often have difficulty finding work because employers think they will be less productive and making reasonable accommodations for them would be expensive. The available information suggests that these fears are based on myth. The data shows that a diverse workforce that includes employees with a disability improves productivity, and most reasonable accommodations for disabled workers cost nothing.