5 Irrational Myths About Employees with Disabilities

Dispelling the Myths About Employees with Disabilities

According to DiversityInc, a publication devoted to the business benefits of diversity, employers who hire people with disabilities often experience less turnover, less absenteeism, and higher productivity.

So why then do some HR managers have reservations about hiring people with disabilities? It’s mainly due to the myths surrounding hiring and working with employees with disabilities. That’s why it’s important to dispel those myths like we are going to do right now with information from the U.S. Department of Labor, IN.gov and Diversity Inc.

Myth: It’s very expensive for businesses to accommodate employees with disabilities.

The majority of employees at least 73 percent-don’t require any type of accommodation. Of the ones that do, 51 percent cost less than $500. For some excellent examples of accommodations, visit the National Center on Workforce Disability (NCWD). And as an added bonus, these accommodations have been found to benefit other employees without disabilities.

Finally, the federal government offers tax incentives to help employers pay for any accommodations or modifications that will make their businesses accessible to persons with disabilities.

Myth: Once an employee with a disability is hired, they cannot be fired because of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The truth is that employers can terminate the employment of people with disabilities, but the termination must meet three conditions:

  • It’s not related to the employee’s disability
  • The employee isn’t meeting the requirements of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation
  • The employee poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the workplace because of their disability.

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Myth: Employees with disabilities either can’t perform the job or they have low productivity.

A DuPont report found that people with disabilities, when compared to employees without, were rated average or above average in performance, attendance and safety. Additionally, a Harris poll discovered that 82 percent of managers said it isn’t any harder to supervise employees with disabilities than it is employees without. And finally, employees with disabilities tend to stay with their employers for longer periods of time.

Myth: People with disabilities can’t do things on their own and need constant help and attention from other employees.

The majority of people with disabilities can perform their jobs without any assistance and prefer to be responsible for themselves. Also, they should have the same expectations and work requirements as employees without disabilities so that they can participate in the full range of human experiences-including success and failure.

Myth: People with disabilities will scare or frustrate customers or clients.

It’s actually the opposite. Hiring people with disabilities provides businesses with a competitive advantage. Research has shown that people have a more favorable view of businesses that employ people with disabilities and would prefer to patronize these businesses.

What Can You Do to Include Employees with Disabilities in Your Workplace?

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) recommends several strategies including:

  • Conduct training for employees including discrimination prevention and ADA specific training for managers and supervisors.
  • Committing to diversity and equitable employment for all individuals regardless of their disabilities.
  • Surveying employees to understand their perceptions of inclusion or bias.
  • Offering mentoring opportunities and including employees with disabilities.
  • Focus recruiting and retention efforts on employees with disabilities.
  • Include diversity and inclusion effectiveness as part of supervisors’ job responsibilities.

Key Takeaways

It’s important for hiring managers to realize that many of the assumptions people have about employees with disabilities are untrue. In fact, in most cases, the reality is the complete opposite. Including employees with disabilities in your business is good for them and for you.

Make sure you are committed to providing an inclusive work environment that follows ADA requirements and EEOC discrimination prevention laws.

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EVERFI designs global ethics and compliance courses that educate employees on important skills relating to harassment, diversity, security and culture—protecting your people and your bottom line.