Over one-third of workers with disabilities report discrimination

The number of disabling conditions, as defined by federal regulations, present among workers in Indiana is largely invisible. A study from the Center for Talent Innovation that surveyed college-educated workers in white collar positions found that roughly 30 percent of them had a disability of some kind, such as migraine headaches, autism or chronic disease. Among those disabled people, 62 percent of them had invisible problems that prevented others from recognizing their disabilities.

The survey results differed significantly from the figures reported by the National Organization on Disability, which recorded that 3.2 percent of workers informed their employers formally about their disabilities. Fear of discrimination typically motivated people to maintain privacy about their difficulties. Responses on the CTI study indicated that discrimination affected more than one-third of disabled workers. People reported that knowledge of their disability made others think that they lacked skills or would work too slowly. For people with visible disabilities, discrimination occurred more often with 40 percent of them experiencing negative treatment.

Concern about discrimination limited the number of people who informed human resources about their issues. A larger portion of survey respondents, 39 percent, said that they had told their managers. Most of the workers, or 57 percent, believed that disclosing their disabilities stalled their careers.

The Americans with Disabilities Act exists to protect people from discrimination. When someone suspects that a company denied employment or refused to make reasonable accommodations so that the person could perform duties, the person could pursue damages with a lawsuit. An attorney who represents workplace discrimination cases could document evidence about the unfair treatment of the person. The attorney's initial communication of the complaint to the employer might resolve the problem. Otherwise, an attorney could present the case in court and seek a settlement from a jury decision.

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