Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities Larger Than Thought

A recent study may help explain the huge unemployment rate of those with disabilities: employer discrimination. Only 34% of working people with disabilities are employed, compared to 74% of working people without disabilities.

The study used fictional cover letters to determine generations of interest from potential employers. The study, "The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior" by Mason Ameri, Lisa Schur, Meera Adya, Scott Bentley, Patrick McKay, and Douglas Kruse, was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research and reported on by Noam Scheiber in The New York Times' "Fake Cover Letters Expose Discrimination Against Disabled."

The fictional candidates were presented as being at the top of their fields.

These results are, of course, despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other legal protections. There are specific times when medical conditions, disabilities, and other personal information can help align a lawyer to the employer's mission -- for example, if the employer is in the healthcare, biotech, or biomedical industries, or if the employer is a nonprofit lobbying organization working on these issues.

But generally job candidates, even lawyers, should be very strategic (when they can be!) about what personal information they reveal, when in the hiring process they reveal it, and how they reveal it.