As stated in both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, it is unlawful to discriminate in employment against any qualified individual with a disability. Under Title I of the ADA, an individual with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. For detailed information on Title I of the ADA refer to ADA Employee Rights for Individuals with Disabilities and ADA Responsibilities for Employers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor, as of September 2011, the labor force was comprised of 21.1% of people with disabilities and 69.7% of people without disabilities. Regarding unemployment; 13.2% of people with disabilities were unemployed as compared to 8.3% of people without disabilities who were unemployed. Simply put, there is a disproportionately higher unemployment rate for people with disabilities.
Other highlights from the 2010 data:
- People with disabilities were over three times as likely as those with no disabilities to be age 65 or over.
- For each age group, the employment-population was much lower for people with a disability than those without a disability.
- The unemployment rate for people with a disability was about the same in 2010 as in 2009 and the rate for people without a disability increased over the year.
- Nearly one-third of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared with about one-fifth of those with no disability and people with a disability were more likely to be self-employed that those with no disability.
The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 and the newly released regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission broadened the definition of disability to be inclusive of most people with a disability as originally intended in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Some employers were concerned about providing reasonable accommodations to these additional employees with disabilities; however a study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) proved these concerns to be unfounded.
This recent study conducted by JAN showed that the benefits employers receive from making workplace accommodations far outweigh the low cost of providing them. Employers reported these benefits to be; retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity. It was also reported that 56% of the accommodations provided cost the employer nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $500.
To promote an inclusive workplace, we have created an employer’s guide to reasonable accommodations and using assistive technologies for employees with disabilities: Assistive Technologies Resource Guide (PDF).
For additional resources, visit our Employment Resources.