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Responding to disability discrimination

In California and around the country, there is a growing concern for the discrimination faced by job applicants with mental and physical disabilities. This workplace discrimination is the reason that the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is twice as high as the unemployment rate among people without disabilities.

A study was recently conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research on disability discrimination. In order to weigh the impact that disability has on the application process, the group submitted 6,016 resumes that were not connected to actual applicants. One third of these fake applicants stated that they had Asperger's Syndrome, one third stated that they had a spinal cord injury, and the last third did not mention any disabilities. Many of these fake resumes showed the disabled applicants were more qualified for the job, but the hiring managers did not agree. The applicants without disabilities were 26 percent more likely to be contacted by the employer than the applicants with disabilities.

This is a serious problem, but the National Disability Rights Network was not surprised by these results. The group's executive director said that widespread prejudice against individuals with disabilities still pervades many businesses. Many people are simply uncomfortable sharing a workplace with disabled employees, and some people falsely believe that individuals with disabilities are more likely to sue their employers. Others believe the accommodations that employees with disabilities will need are too expensive, so they avoid this concern by refusing to hire them.

People with disabilities who are the subject of employment discrimination may want to discuss their situation with an attorney. In some cases, they may be afforded remedies by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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