Evidence comparing the productivity of PWDs to people without disabilities is sparse.
Employers surveyed in McFarlin et al. In fact, Shafer, et. In contrast, in a study of companies identified as providing excellent employment opportunities for people with mental retardation Olson, et al.
Why Don’t Employers Hire People With Disabilities?
Furthermore, working in cyberspace removes some of the stereotypes generated by fact-to-fact contact. The information technology IT industry holds much promise for individuals with disabilities. As a result of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers believe that costly accommodations and other investments are necessary in order to hire and maintain employees with disabilities and equalize productivity. In addition, the annual amortized costs of these accommodations over their useful lifetime or the tenure of PWDs employee , may be much lower.
While the majority reports an overall positive response on the part of employers to those issues perceived not to involve additional costs e. Although several of the supervisors stated that they thought that most of the accommodations made at the workplace had not been particularly expensive, the financial burden often fell on the specific department where the employee with a disability was assigned. In summary, the evidence shows no significant productivity differences between PWDs and people without disabilities.
However, there is still the perception that differences do exist between these two groups among employers. True, accommodations for PWDs may entail additional costs to employers, but evidence to date suggests that these costs are usually minor and unlikely to tip the benefit versus cost assessment away from hiring from this source of labor. However, there is support that shows those employers who are not aware of this evidence still have concerns regarding accommodation costs for employees with disabilities.
Stereotypes ascribed to persons with disabilities may be divided into six specific dimensions:. Expectancies are anticipatory beliefs about the individual based on category membership and stereotypes. If a person is categorized as physically disabled, the observer also derives expectancies about the person from stereotyped assumptions made about people with physical disabilities as a group.
For example, if the stereotype of people with amputations is that they are bitter or unhappy, then a hiring manager may expect that a job applicant with an amputated leg will have problems interacting with customers. Physical disabilities are generally viewed more favorably than mental disabilities.
The proportion of adults with a learning disability in paid employment varies by region.
Greenwood, et al. Results showed that candidates with a psychiatric disability were given significantly lower suitability ratings than candidates with no disabilities. Koser et al. Results showed that a job applicant who uses a wheelchair was more likely to be hired than an employee taking medication for depression or anxiety. In a survey of Fortune companies, Jones, et al. Furthermore, few employers had specific employment policies regarding the psychiatrically handicapped.
This perception of a hierarchy in disabilities regarded to be more or less desirable has been reported in other studies as well Buccini, ; Fuqua et al. Interestingly, Gilbride, et al. Most of these studies have found that prior positive contact has a direct relationship with favorable employer attitudes.
Why Don't Employers Hire People With Disabilities? | Rise
Only two of these studies Ehrhart, ; Tobias, did not support this evidence. Jobs can also be stereotyped, and these stereotypes can be used to exclude applicants with disabilities as not well-suited. The combination of stereotypes about applicants with disabilities and stereotypes about job requirements may lead to incorrect decisions and unfair discrimination. Stone and Colella provide a poignant example:. The reason for this is that the prototypical hearing-impaired person cannot understand or orally communicate with others. This inference, however, may be incorrect about a particular hearing-impaired person who has the ability to read lips and communicate orally with others.
Greenwood and Johnson found that employers were more willing to consider the physically disabled for jobs that were sedentary, had less pressure, and had less interpersonal contact. This seems consistent with the concept of job prototypes that are congruent with stereotypes of PWDs. While stereotypes are typically negative, some limited research has shown a positive bias in favor of hiring PWDs. Another study had similar findings showing that job candidates with disabilities were rated more highly than those without disabilities Nordstrom, et.
These studies suggest that in some cases, having a physical disability may be viewed as a desirable KSAO. However, more research is needed to substantiate these findings and understand the causal relationships. In summary, stereotypes of PWDs may affect selection decisions causing some applicants with disabilities not to be hired. However, stereotypes may also operate to the advantage of PWDs in some situations.
Unfortunately, there is no direct research evidence that indicates how much of the unemployment of individuals with disabilities is due to stereotypes resulting in biased decisions. At most, we can conclude that the processes by which biased decisions could result have been well articulated but not well-researched. One explanation that has been offered to account for the declining employment of PWDs during the s after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities is that employers fear lawsuits related to hiring and firing them.
Anecdotal evidence supports this possibility. A supervisor in one of the focus groups conducted by Pitt-Catsouphes and Butterworth reported that although top management focused strongly on job skills when hiring persons with disabilities, once those employees were hired, lower level managers were told in no uncertain terms that employees with disabilities, regardless of job performance, were to stay, no matter what.
Clearly, the largest percentage of charges concern claims of unfair termination.
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Thus, employers may fear that once hired, unsatisfactory employees with disabilities may be costly to terminate. However, statistics show this concern should not be an issue. Allbright and Lee reviewed a total of lawsuits charging violations of the ADA. Lee also goes on to posit that with the new Supreme Court ruling in regarding what constitutes a normal life act, the number of plaintiffs winning their cases will be less. Since the Americans with Disabilities Act is the most prominent protective legislation, it has generated recent interest in its impact on the employment of PWDs.
The effects were larger for those individuals who had mental disabilities, were younger, and had less education. Acemoglu and Angrist analyzing CPS data, concluded that the ADA reduced employment for workers with disabilities aged , while there was a post-ADA decline in the employment of men with disabilities aged , there was no clear evidence of an effect on women aged In fact, DeLeire found that minorities with disabilities experienced an increase in their probability of employment.
In addition, those with high school or college diplomas also experienced increases. Also, individuals whose disabilities were the result of injury had higher employment after the ADA was passed. Acemoglu and Angrist found that the number of weeks worked by disabled women ages increased relative to the weeks worked by women with disabilities over the period. In summary, while the fear of litigation may have some impact on the employment of PWDs, evidence to date is indirect and inconclusive. Examining hiring data before and after the ADA, it is difficult to eliminate all alternative explanations for declines, even though both studies described earlier controlled for several possibilities.
Coworker reactions present a possibility for explaining why employers hire fewer workers with disabilities.
Employers may fear that coworkers will react negatively to working with PWDs and thereby lower productivity, increase labor costs, and make their organizations less profitable. What concerns might coworkers have about working with individuals with disabilities? Stone and Colella propose three possibilities. First, coworkers may fear a negative effect on work-related outcomes. For example, individuals without disabilities may fear an increase in their workloads as a result of working with an individual with a disability. Colella, et al.
Second, coworkers may fear a negative effect on personal outcomes. Individuals without disabilities may fear that some disabilities are contagious even when they are not. People without disabilities may also feel resentment regarding accommodations and special treatment received by PWDs Colella, Third, coworkers may fear a negative effect on interpersonal outcomes.
For example, coworkers may feel awkwardness, discomfort, ambivalence, and guilt about how they should interact with PWDs. This may result in avoidance behavior and exclusion of PWDs from formal and informal work groups. All of these coworker concerns may play an even more important role in organizations structured around teams, where team members get to hire their coworkers. Likewise, employers may fear that customers may have negative reactions to interactions with employees with disabilities and transact less business with their organizations.
Both explanations are plausible, and interestingly, both explanations were offered in the past to explain employer reluctance to hire other minority groups, such as women, Blacks, and Hispanics. By not hiring PWDs, organizations may be losing revenue as well. While there is no research on this phenomenon, one might expect similar responses to those described previously for coworkers.
For work-related outcomes, customers may fear that employees with disabilities do not produce high quality products or are incapable of delivering the same level of service as workers without disabilities.
For personal outcomes, customers may hold similar fears as coworkers regarding the contagion of disabilities. For interpersonal outcomes, customers may likewise fear feelings of awkwardness, discomfort, ambivalence, and guilt about how they should interact with PWDs.
All of these explanations are plausible; however, there is no research that has been conducted in this area. In summary, employers may choose not to hire individuals with disabilities because of fears about negative coworker and customer reactions. Several theoretical explanations have been proposed that seem quite plausible. Unfortunately, virtually no research has been conducted to test the validity of these propositions.
If employers were provided economic incentives to hire PWDs, it is logical to conclude that there would be higher rates of PWDs employed—assuming the incentives were known, understood, and perceived as favorable. For example, the receipt of some federal disability payments is contingent upon certain work restrictions. Leonard reported the more generous the benefits to PWDs worker and the poorer the labor market conditions, the more males with disabilities drop out of the labor market and enroll for SSDI. Economic incentives make it possible for employers to reduce their tax burdens and offset potential or realized costs of hiring individuals with disabilities Livermore, et.
There is no known research that has assessed the effectiveness of economic incentives for employers on employment rates of PWDs.