The Census Bureau just released statistics showing that the disabled population is less likely to be employed, and more likely to be employed in low-paying jobs.
It’s unclear from the report how detailed a statistical analysis underlays the conclusions. The type of disability can surely affect a person’s job prospects. For example, someone with serious cognitive difficulties is unlikely to land a high paying job in the high tech industry. Indeed, most jobs that pay well require specialized education.
Still, there is more to the story than disabilities that prevent job applicants from getting degrees or specialized training. For example, the EEOC just filed a case in Maryland for a job applicant at Toys R Us, which refused to provide a sign language interpreter for the interview.
Employers seem to shy away from employees with any kind of difference. Sometimes I hear of vague fears that the employer will incur some kind of liability, or the customers won’t like dealing with a disabled person, or health insurance premiums will rise. (None of these excuses is a legal reason to discriminate, by the way.) Often, though, there seems to be some mean-spirited or superstitious attitude toward someone who has a medical issue or congenital difference. And that’s the reason we need the law.