Drivers of workplace discrimination against people with disabilities: The utility of Attribution Theory

Fong Chan, Brian T. McMahon, Gladys Cheing, David A. Rosenthal, Jill Bezyak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The purpose of this paper was to determine what drives workplace discrimination against people with disabilities. These findings are then compared to available literature on attribution theory, which concerns itself with public perceptions of the controllability and stability of various impairments. The sample included 35,763 allegations of discriminations filed by people with disabilities under the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Group A included impairments deemed by Corrigan et al. [1988] to be uncontrollable but stable: visual impairment (representing 13% of the total allegations in this study), cancer (12%), cardiovascular disease (19%), and spinal cord injuries (5%). The controllable but unstable impairments in group B included depression (38%), schizophrenia (2%), alcohol and other drug abuse (4%), and HIV/AIDS (7%). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had resolved all allegations in terms of merit Resolutions (a positive finding of discrimination) and Resolutions without merit. Allegations of workplace discrimination were found to center mainly on hiring, discharge, harassment, and reasonable accommodation issues. Perceived workplace discrimination (as measured by allegations filed with EEOC) does occur at higher levels in Group B, especially when serious issues involving discharge and disability harassment are involved. With the glaring exception of HIV/AIDS, however, actual discrimination (as measured by EEOC merit Resolutions) occurs at higher levels for Group A.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalWork
Volume25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jul 26

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Chan, F., McMahon, B. T., Cheing, G., Rosenthal, D. A., & Bezyak, J. (2005). Drivers of workplace discrimination against people with disabilities: The utility of Attribution Theory. Work, 25(1), 77-88.