Disabled Seek Work

Discussion
Apr 11, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Although the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in hiring practices and the workplace, the percentage of disabled people with (and without) jobs has remained relatively flat since the bill was passed.


According to a study conducted by the Harris organization for the National Organization on Disability, only 35 percent of disabled workers were employed full or part-time in 2004. That’s up only one percent from 1986 levels.


“Employers still have fears and misconceptions about people with disabilities,” said Nancy Starnes, vice president and chief of staff at the National Organization on Disability.


Moderator’s Comment: How has the retail industry done in bringing the disabled into the workforce, both at the store and corporate levels? Where do you
see room for improvement and how can that be achieved?
– George
Anderson – Moderator

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6 Comments on "Disabled Seek Work"


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Kara M. Maciel
Guest
Kara M. Maciel
14 years 10 months ago
For employers who are looking to hire qualified employees, the ADA can be a confusing legal maze. Top concerns include the type of questions they can ask disabled applicants during interviews and what kinds of pre-hire tests they can require disabled applicants to perform. Retailers should be mindful that the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and to employees if such an accommodation is not an undue burden on the company. Indeed, a recent company settled a lawsuit with the EEOC for over $200,000 when the company refused to consider an applicant for a job interview after she showed up to the interview with her guide dog. Failing to comply with the ADA concerning applicants and employees often proves costly to employers. But, retailers should also be aware that the ADA also protects guests with disabilities in their stores. As a place of public accommodation, retailers must implement policies and procedures that allows customers with disabilities equal enjoyment of opportunities as all other customers. Such equal enjoyment includes the equal access of… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

Although many retailers bemoan their high turnover, very few take specific action. Sometimes I see disabled people working as baggers. I can’t remember seeing anyone in a wheelchair working in a retail store. Very few retailers outsource tasks to sheltered workshops. The few retailers who hire disabled people reap a great reward because the people have so few other potential opportunities that they don’t quit easily. And sheltered workshops often quote piecework rates, so their pricing is known in advance.

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 10 months ago
When I was a teenager, I was injured in an auto accident and permanently disabled. As a result, I was able to get basically a free college education and financial support. But to live decently, I needed a real job. At the time, there was a $3,000 tax credit for hiring someone disabled. When I mentioned that at a job interview or on my resume, I know I was discriminated against. So I never mentioned it again and soon real job offers started coming in. I never brought up the $3,000 tax credit for fear I might be found out and discriminated against. Given this experience, I know that if my disabilities were more obvious, getting a real job would be nearly impossible. Thankfully, I’m my own boss now. Being disabled does not mean you are stupid. Retailers do a good job of hiring disabled people but they are often pigeonholed and given jobs as greeters and such. With the severe labor shortage in this country, perhaps the disabled are an untapped resource.
Craig Johnson
Guest
Craig Johnson
14 years 10 months ago

I grew up in a family grocery business and have to admit that we didn’t employ any disabled staff, but it had less to do with discrimination than it did being unsure how to. I know that sounds stupid, but the ADA needed to come with a “how to” guide…not how to hire, but how to think creatively on ways to adjust systems/procedures/work stations/responsibilities…we were just running fast enough every day that there wasn’t time to invest thinking beyond the obvious, or quickest solution available. Doesn’t make it right, but that’s the way it was.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 10 months ago

To answer a question with a question – does anyone know roughly how many disabled applicants there are for the average retail store vacancy? Possibly very few, which would explain why there are so few disabled employees visible. People with some disabilities might not feel that they would enjoy being on the shop floor or that they might not be able to do the job well. It would be interesting to know whether there is actually discrimination at work here or if it is the potential employees themselves that are deciding against retailing as a career. I assume that different issues are relevant behind the scenes, in office jobs, and would then wonder how retail businesses compared with other businesses.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 10 months ago
I know a wheelchair-bound guy who is much smarter than me (not a big stretch) and superbly talented (very unlike me). He can’t get a job. When he applies, prospective employers are legally disallowed to ask, and he’s disinclined to volunteer the information. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Then, when he makes his way to interviews, overcoming all of the transportation difficulties he faces along the way, he often encounters rampless offices. But all of that is pushed to the background when the interviewer first spots him. Imagine the imperviousness to rejection and unmet expectations he must have developed over the years. What a perfect salesman! How can an acoustically-impaired (deaf) person hope to function effectively in a business environment that doesn’t sign? Or an optically-challenged (blind) person hope to function effectively in a business environment that doesn’t Braille (I made it a verb)? There is so much genius being overlooked, and very few challenged folk experience the Stephen Hawking-esque cosmic connection of ultimate genius with near-death disablement. How do we tap into this limitless, overlooked… Read more »
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