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Study examines disability discrimination

California workers who have disabilities may be more likely to feel stalled in the workplace than those who do not. These and other findings regarding employees with disabilities were part of a study done by the Center for Talent Innovation. The research found that almost a third of full-time, college-educated, white-collar employees fit the expanded federal definition of disabled. However, fewer than 4 percent of disabled individuals identify themselves as such to employers.

This could be because employees fear discrimination if their disability becomes apparent. Almost two-thirds of people with disabilities have conditions that are not visible, but more than one-third report experiencing discrimination. Among the forms this discrimination takes is the assumption that a worker cannot do a job or will take longer to complete it. This was a particular problem for people who had visible disabilities. Forty-four percent of individuals with visible disabilities and 40 percent of people with somewhat visible disabilities reported experiencing discrimination.

Just over one-fifth of people with disabilities inform human resources about their situation while around 39 percent tell their supervisors. This fear also means that some employers that would provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations are unable to do so simply because they are unaware of what is needed.

These accommodations are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If employers do not offer these accommodations in response to employees' requests or discriminate against them in any way, these workers may want to speak to an attorney about their rights. Some companies have established policies concerning workplace discrimination and ways to address the situation through workplace channels. However, some workplaces are not always responsive to such allegations. A meeting with an attorney may help an employee develop a strategy for addressing the problem at work as well as for what to do if the workplace response is unsatisfactory.

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