Can We Close the Disability Employment Gap?

A billion people around the world are living with disabilities, including millions here in the United States. Roughly 15 percent of the worldwide population suffers from some type of disability. Unfortunately, some of these people may face workplace discrimination and lower levels of employment, despite being able to perform many jobs. In the United States, some people with disabilities can be shunned during job interviews.

A recent article published by The Guardian claimed the United States, Peru and Russia have the worst disability employment gaps in the world. In fact, statistics gathered by the International Labor Organization (ILO) back these claims. According to the ILO, the global employment rate for people with disabilities is 24.5 percent lower than for non-disabled people.

The same statistics gathered by the ILO show the employment rate for Americans with disabilities is 46.4 percent lower than for non-disabled people. U.S. Census data from 2010 shows only 41.1 percent of disabled Americans are employed!

While some disabilities make working extremely difficult, many do not. There are also cases where potential employers are discriminating against jobseekers with disabilities, in some cases, blatantly.

Disabled Jobseekers Have Federal and State Protections Against Discrimination

One way to close the disability employment gap is to help spread awareness on rights offered by federal and state laws. For example, Californians with disabilities have employment protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). When people with disabilities are denied jobs that they are qualified for on the basis of their disability, discrimination may have occurred. What does disability discrimination look like?

An article published by CNN last year discussed how a blind computer programmer was told by the person interviewing him, “sorry, we don’t hire blind people.” This person had years of expertise at his craft and was more than qualified for the job.

In cases where jobseekers have evidence they have been discriminated against, they should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and an attorney to explore potential legal options. By holding employers accountable for disability discrimination, it may make it more likely that other businesses do not commit the same offenses.

The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. will help defend workers who have been the target of workplace discrimination.

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