Even though workers in California and across the United States usually benefit where there are low unemployment levels, this favorable situation does not fully extend to those individuals who live with disabilities. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that unemployment among disabled Americans can reach levels as high as 70 percent, and these persons tend make about $1,000 less per month when compared to people who do not have disabilities.
Even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the American With Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit employment discrimination against disabled workers, there is still a disparate impact in the workplace when it comes to ableism. Although most employers do not practice ableism intentionally, there is an ugly undercurrent of managers who tend to favor workers who do not have disabilities. In many cases, managers get the wrong idea about affirmative action and believe that they are doing their civic duty when hiring disabled employees to handle menial tasks at low rates of pay.
The employment discrimination situations created by ableism are likely behind the record number of complaints received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016. In 2017, more than 26,000 cases reviewed by the EEOC were filed by workers who suffered workplace discrimination based on their disability status. Compensation in excess of $135 million was obtained in more than 5,000 of these cases.
It should be noted that ableism is not the same as hiring discrimination. Small business owners with 14 or fewer staff members on the payroll are not bound by federal law to hire disabled job applicants. Nonetheless, employers who do hire workers with disabilities are prohibited from engaging in ableism. Whether intentional or accidental, ableism is not something that disabled workers should have to endure in 2018.