The Americans with Disabilities Act was first signed into law in 1990, and the protections it provides have failed to keep up in some areas. Disability discrimination and harassment continue to run rampant in workplaces, and the rights of disabled workers seem to remain stagnant.
One of the ways disabled workers are being (legally) discriminated against is in their wages. According to a loophole in the 1938 Fair Labors Standards Act, some employers are able to pay as little as three cents per hour. This is due to the act’s allowance of firms to pay based on productivity or ability. For the employed disabled population, these wages can trap workers in menial jobs with no opportunity for upward mobility. Justification from the employers for such employment conditions generally follows along the lines that they’re providing training and that the employee otherwise wouldn’t have a job.
Discrimination within the job often extends to colleagues and managers. It can come in the form of harassment involving the person’s disability (which is illegal), or continually finding reasons why other employees should advance in the company while keeping the disabled employee in their position. Discrimination from workplace culture is often unintentional, but still wholly damaging to a person’s life and career.
Barriers to Entry
For those looking for a job, disabled applicants are at an immediate disadvantage. Some jobs have barriers to entry such as requiring a driver’s license, which immediately excludes a large portion of the disabled population. If the employer can prove why it is a requirement then it is perfectly legal.
Beyond job requirements, the application field itself may be getting less friendly towards disabled workers. Company HireVue has recently come under some fire for it’s interviewing AI. The software analyses interviewee responses, posture, body language, and facial expressions to judge how they would serve as an employee in the position in question. While the software might work well for a field of equally abled candidates, it fails to adapt to differently-abled candidates.
Everyone will be disabled at some point in their life. Whether it’s from an accident, medical procedure, pregnancy, or simply old age, everyone will experience needing additional resources to complete day-to-day activities. With that being the case, you’d expect there to be more protections in place.
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