Disability discrimination is, unfortunately, prevalent in the modern workplace. Thankfully, there are laws that protect the rights of employees with disabilities, including the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, discriminatory practices and behaviors still persist despite these legal protections.
Why is discrimination against disabled workers still a common problem? Here are three reasons why disability discrimination occurs in so many workplaces.
1. Social stigma
Sadly, disability still comes with significant stigmatization in our society. Many people see those with disabilities as less-than or incapable of properly functioning. Employers and co-workers may view a worker with a disability as weak. People with disabilities are often victims of stereotyping, condescension, hate crimes and social avoidance. This widespread social barrier may result in bullying, teasing, refusing to hire or failing to accommodate disabled workers.
2. Lack of access
People with disabilities deserve full access to public places. The ADA seeks to ensure the accommodation of disabilities in public areas, including:
- Parking lots
- Drinking fountains
However, not every public facility meets these standards, which leaves disabled people out of the public eye. Many employers also often fail to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees to do their jobs. If disabled workers do not have the tools necessary to participate in work and society at large, discrimination and exclusion will continue.
Another issue that inflames the larger issue of discrimination is the fact that Americans with disabilities face large rates of unemployment. Many disabled people have the ability to work, but get denied employment. When this occurs, disabled people may feel discouraged about seeking work again. This can create an almost unbreakable cycle of discrimination and exclusion.
Understanding the roots of disability discrimination is the first step to combating it. If you or someone you know is facing barriers, apathetic attitudes or hostility at work because of a disability, you should look into taking legal action.