According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2019, workplace disability discrimination claims outstripped racial discrimination claims for the first time. Furthermore, the workplaces of most employees in Michigan and around the country are unlikely to have inclusion initiatives that are specific to the disabled. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that this is the case for only 13% of companies, and only half of all HR professionals have been through a training focused on disability inclusion.
The SHRM reports that many employers may not know what their obligations are under state and federal law. Furthermore, they may have shifted their primary training focus to sexual harassment. Federal law only recommends but does not require disability training, and many companies may not see the need for it if they have never hired a disabled person. Disabled people are two times as likely to be unemployed than those who are not disabled.
It is a common misconception among HR professionals that “disabled” only refers to a physical disability, but a disability can be mental as well. The SHRM Foundation is making an effort to expand awareness about disability in the workplace through its certificate program, which is designed to help hiring managers and HR hire and support more disabled workers. An employer’s obligation regarding reasonable accommodation is one of the topics that disability training should address.
People who believe they are facing workplace discrimination because their employer is not offering reasonable accommodation for disabilities or who think they are dealing with any type of discrimination at work may want to contact an attorney. An attorney may be able to explain what an employee’s rights are and what constitutes a protected class. The attorney also might be able to suggest the next steps the employee should take. This could include documenting the discrimination and reporting it to a supervisor or HR.