What can I do if I was denied a job I was otherwise qualified for on the basis of my disability?
The New York Times ran an article this week about a study recently presented by Syracuse and Rutgers Universities demonstrating that there is significant discrimination taking place when it comes to disabled job seekers. It is important to be aware that there is legal recourse available for disabled applicants who experience discrimination during their job hunting.
The study mentioned was organized in the following way:
Cover letter and resumes were sent in response to job opening ads. The applications were for fictitious candidates. There were two different resumes sent for each position, one for an experienced candidate, and one for a qualified candidate with little experience. Three different cover letters — one purporting to be from a non-disabled applicant, one from an applicant with a spinal cord injury, and one from an applicant with Asperger’s syndrome were sent with each resume.
The researchers found that for the experienced candidates, responses from employers were significantly more likely when the employer was responding to the application of the non-disabled person. Employers were 34 percent less likely to show an interest in the disabled applicants. Researchers commented that they hypothesized this result, but that they did not foresee such a drastic outcome. The researchers also found that responses were 15 percent less likely for disabled applicants among the applicants that were not experienced, but nonetheless qualified.
Researchers were hoping to explain the steep drop off in employment rate for disabled workers. Statistics show that 34 percent of people with disabilities are employed as of 2013, whereas 74 percent of those without a disability are employed. It seems very likely that bias is a contributing factor in these hiring statistics. Particularly disturbing is that the gap is greater for people with disabilities who have more education, experience, and qualification.
For those who are disabled and experience discrimination relative to hiring or in the workplace, there are law firms that specialize both in disability and discrimination cases. If you are disabled and feel you have been discriminated against because of your disability, you should contact an attorney who specializes in disability to investigate the legal options available to you.