Americans with Disabilities in the Workplace: Implications for Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Alexandra J. McDonald, Molly J.

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1 Running Head: AMERICANS WITH DISAIBILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 1 Americans with Disabilities in the Workplace: Implications for Industrial/Organizational Psychology Alexandra J. McDonald, Molly J. Moon, Kabao Xiong St. Olaf College

2 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 2 Americans with Disabilities in the Workplace: Implications for Industrial/Organizational Psychology In the past two decades adjustments have been made to policy and governmental regulation related to employees with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), first instated in 1990 and recently amended in 2008, can only be considered a starting point for investigating the present situation for individuals with disabilities and their current or potential employers. Industrial/organizational psychologists, human resource personnel, managers, and employees must all understand how their role affects the hiring, managing, or work situation of disabled persons. This cognizance is important in order to avoid discrimination, alienation, or litigation and contribute to a positive work environment for all employees. An overview of the ADA and its reception by employers and employees, factors that affect the hiring of disabled persons, and overall workplace attitudes will lend insight to the ways in which I/O psychology influences, and can work to better influence, the management of disabled employees in the workplace today. Americans with Disabilities Act Originally, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act was passed with the intent to protect employees or potential employees that are described as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity (Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act). activit construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under this Act, to the maximum extent permitted by n expanded to include "caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working" as well as control of s These additions are important in endeavors to expand that affect lives in more ways than merely

3 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 3 In addition toclarifying the Accommodations are the main right afforded to individuals with disabilities under the ADA. However, as illustrated by the literature covered in the following section, it seems there is a disconnect between For this reason a more in depth look at research concerning the ADA utilizing the example of a prevalent but largely hidden obstacle, learning disabilities (LD), will lend insight to the necessity of the 2008 revisions to the ADA. Breadth of Disabilities in the Workforce According to Reisman and Reisman (1993), approximately 10-15% of employees in any large industry or business have a learning disability. A literature review on the ADA by Price, Gerber, and Mulligan (2007), surveys two perspectives on the matter; first covering the viewpoint of employers and secondly, summarizing interviews with adults who have diagnosed learning disabilities. In interviews with physical or sensory disabilities. There is confusion and little guidance or expertise in organizations concerning disabilities or the ADA; this resulted in uninformed assumptions, even that LD may be equated with mental retardation (Price et al., 2007). Moreover, this study illustrates how ignorance of the ADA extended even further with employees; of those interview two-thirds were completely unaware the ADA even existed. The study suggests this ignorance is potentially the paramount reason for underutilization of the right to accommodation provided by the ADA. - -disclosing to employers about their condition and therefore did not receive accommodations afforded to them under the ADA (Price et al., 2007). Further inquiry as to how this can be remedied will be necessary. A study by Joseph Madaus surveyed recent college graduates pertaining to their work

4 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 4 experience and the likelihood of disclosing information concerning their learning disability (2008). 55% reported disclosing at some point in their job experience. On the other hand, 45% of respondents never self-reported even though three-quarters of all respondents indicated their learning disability negatively affected their work in some way. The main reason for not self-disclosing was feeling there was no reason to disclose or no accommodation would be needed (61% of respondents). However, the secondmost cited reason was a concern for negatively influencing relationships with supervisors or co-workers, at 30% and 29% respectively. This presents an opportunity for I/O psychologists to mediate the selfdisclosure and accommodation process and negate such negative effects (Madaus, 2008). Hiring Individuals with Disabilities Identification and Characteristics of Work Environments and Employers Open to Hiring and Accommodating Workers with Disabilities, a study carried out in 2003 by Dennis Gilbride, Robert Stensrud, and David Vandergoot people with disabilities than ot Through their research, they have identified three characteristics of employers open to hiring people with disabilities as the following: cultural issues, job match, and employer experience and support. Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, in 2003 the unemployment rate of Americans with disabilities was left relatively unchanged. Identifying the characteristics of employers open to hiring and accommodating employees with disabilities helps focus the placement services and improve the targeting of education, consulting, and advocacy activities (Gilbride, Stensrud, & Vandergoot, 2003). The principles of I/O psychology can be leveraged to facilitate these processes. I/O psychology can be utilized to understand how to apply the breadth of characteristics identified in the Gilbride et al. study (2003). Some characteristics of the cultural issues category

5 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 5 diversity by senior management, and several others. Characteristics found in the job match category inclusion of the worker with a disability in the discussions regarding capabilities, job requirements, and all accommodation discussions, and the employer offers internships that could potentially lead to jobs (Gilbride et al., 2003). category were the following: the ability of the employer to supervise a diverse workplace and the employer views the community rehabilitation program as a partner and an on-going employment support resource. Using these categories and the characteristics of which they are composed, employers can harness the principles of I/O psychology to develop strategies in which these characteristics can be managed in the workplace. Thus, employees can effectively be brought together to bring about the best possible work scenario for both parties: people with disabilities will gain employment and employers will gain valuable employees. In most cases, the employment of a person involves that person and the employer or employer organization. In cases involving the employment of a person with disability, the utilization of a third party, the disability employment service, is most common. In 2004, Kaye Smith, Lynne Webber, Joe Graffam, and Carlene Wilson carried out a study through which they examined three things: Employer Satisfaction, Job Match, and Hiring Intentions for Employees with a Disability; also the title of the study. Factors linked to employer satisfaction have been shown to differ between employees with and without disabilities. Results from the Smith et al. (2004) study showed that when employers were asked to rate the two groups of employees equivalent on the work performance variables, employers rated employees with a disability more favorably. It is well known that several factors come into play when determining employer satisfaction, which can and will change over periods of time. For example, employer and employee expectations and worker performance vary depending on how long an employee has been with the organization or what kind of duties they are expected to perform.

6 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 6 Within the study, employee satisfaction was measured through three aspects of work: speed or rate of work, accuracy or quality of work, and workplace climate to determine work performance. The study found that employees were more likely to demonstrate speed and accuracy of work in an equal, inclusive, and diverse workplace, which led to an increase in employer and employee satisfaction (Smith et al., 2004). The study also found that comparative ratings on employer satisfaction for employees with and without a disability to be a major indicator of future hiring intentions for people with disabilities. Using this type of information, I/O psychologists can team up with disability employment services to effectively apply principles of I/O psychology including job match, job restructuring, and team selection, in order to ensure the satisfaction of both employees and employers. Similar to I/O psychologists, disability employment services focus on the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics of the customer and search for the job that most closely matches both strategies aimed at promoting employer and employee satisfaction through harmonious employeremploye 2004). Work analyses can be performed to assess the potential job-match in hopes of ensuring the success of both the organization and the employee. As discussed previously, job restructuring to accommodate certain needs of employees is possible and, in some cases, necessary. I/O psychologists and disability employment services must work together to determine what types of accommodations are reasonable for each potential employer and employee. Based on the job match and the potential for job restructuring, I/O psychologists can begin to focus on team selection within the organization in order to maximize effectiveness and efficiency of work done by the employee with a disability and ultimately improve future employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Workplace Attitudes about Disability It is imperative to assess organizational attitudes towar in order to understand how related discrimination can be prevented and create a work culture that is both supportive

7 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 7 and inclusive of employees with disabilities. Attitudes can be anything ranging from beliefs to cognition to emotions. All of these attitudes serve crucial roles in influencing work behavior (Muchinsky, 2012). Povovich, Scherbaum, Scherbaum & Polinko (2003) conducted a dual survey study that examined attitudes included, concerning people with disabilities and beliefs about the reasonableness of workplace accommodations. One goal of this study was to investigate whether or not the legal definition of a disability would alter among other conditions that are not disabilities such as disorder Study 1 did not provide the American with Disability Act ( disability while Study 2 did. Their analyses revealed that, despite providing an ADA definition of participants still did not know which conditions, whether physical/sensory-motor or psychological, legally constituted as a disability under the ADA guidelines (Popovich et al., 2003). This is problematic potentially result in apathetic attitudes and behaviors towards employees with disabilities. Another aspect of this study explored the relationship of g reactions and (Popovich et al., 2003). In Study 1, gender was a predictor of both affective reactions and belief in workplace accommodation. Specifically, women had positive affective reactions to employees with disabilities and believed in reasonable workplace accommodation more so than men. Interestingly, however, in Study 2 gender only predicted beliefs in the reasonableness of workplace accommodation. In both Study 1 and Study 2, there was variability when it came to experience with disabled persons,

8 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 8 (Popovich et al., 2003). This finding is counter-intuitive. But perhaps, participants did not rate their attitudes positively towards employees with disabilities whom they have worked with because a work relationship does not necessarily allow people to know each other at a personal or social level. Participants may reflect on their previous work experiences and define an employee with disability by the work function or work environment rather than by other aspects of the person, such as his or her personal attributes. Overall, this study suggest that experience is very much related to attitudes about employees with disabilities. This study is limited because there is little generalizability in the sample. Undergraduate students do not have a very diverse work history therefore their work experience is not reflective of the larger work force. It would be interesting to investigate whether the patterns of attitudes and beliefs found in this study are consistent with an experienced adult population. Another limitation is that the study examine attitudes across many organizations and jobs, which are all undefined. ot reveal which section of the workforce these attitudes are most prevalent. Perhaps a participant sample from a particular organization or type of organization (non-profit vs. for profit) may provide more insight on the trends of ut people with disabilities. Such information will be useful in trying to address issues pertaining to discrimination in the workplace. A study by Lee (1996) explored employe with disabilities and found results consistent wi importantly, the employers with disabilities were critical in shaping their attitudes. Furthermore, like employees, employers do not quite recognize which conditions are legally considered a disability (Lee, 2001). Considered altogether, these studies highlight the significance of

9 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 9 experience in facilitating workplace attitudes and the existence of a common uncertainty about conditions of disability in the workplace. The lack of experience with people who are disabled and the lack of understanding of what conditions constitute as attitudes to be influenced by stereotypes and preconceived notions of disabilities, which can create a culture that is, perhaps unintentionally, unreceptive or discriminating towards employees with disabilities in the workplace. For employers to foster a work culture and environment that is inclusive of all employees, specifically employees with disabilities, we suggest that organizations focus on leveraging workplace attitudes. To do this, employers should encourage interaction among all employees because as suggested by previous research, experience with persons who are disabled, not simply past work experience, predicts positive attitudes (Lee, 1996; Popovich et. al., 2003). The experience of engaging with employees who are disabled in a social manner, outside of daily or repetitive work functions, could potentially elicit positive attitudes and ultimately cultivate a welcoming work environment for all employees, especially for those with disabilities. When employers take an active role in correcting organizational attitudes towards a marginalized population in the workplace, either by way of enhancing work relationships or by helping all employees understand disabled conditions, the work environment will benefit both socially and legally. Conclusions It is evident there is still much confusion concerning what constitutes a disability and its protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act, in addition to uncertainty concerning how to manage a work environment to include individuals with disabilities. We recommend that I/O psychologists practicing in the field assume greater ownership of the topic, for it will be of increasing concern for employers. According to an article in Industry Week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) estimates the 2008 Amendments to the ADA will affect between 12 million and 34.5 million individuals, a sharp increase from the original estimate of 8.5 million. Because of this

10 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 10 increase the EEOC also figures the associated costs of providing accommodations under the ADA will increase between $60 million and $183 million (Jusko, 2011). the likelihood of increased legal costs as more ADA-associated litigation will proceed to trial under the new definition of disability in the 2008 Amendments. Potentially a costly and time intensive factor for employers, proactive action by I/O psychologists in the workplace will be imperative. In order to best avoid increased expenses for employers and foster a positive work environment for employees in the future, I/O psychologists should take greater ownership of working with disabled individuals. As illustrated in this literature review, over twenty years after the ADA was first passed there still neglects to be a shared understanding of protections for disabled employees and expectations of employers in providing accommodations. By designing training for supervisors, human resource personnel, and disability placement services I/O psychologists can assume the role of ADA expert to avoid the previously seen under-utilization of ADA protections and additionally, the predicted increase in related litigation. Not only is compliance important, but establishing an informed workforce and increased diversity will foster positive workplace attitudes. Designed purposefully, I/O psychology can be the foundation utilized to integrate acceptance of disabled employees and associated processes within

11 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 11 References Gilbride, D., Stensrud, R., & Vandergoot, D. (2003). Identification of the characteristics of work environments and employers open to hiring and accommodating people with disabilities. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 46(3), 130. United Cerebral Palsy. Retrieved from: Accessed 6 December 2011 Industry Week/IW, 260(5), 18. Lee, B. A. (1996). Legal requirements and employer responses to accommodating employees with disabilities. Human Resource Management Review, 8(4), Madaus, J. (2008). Employment self-disclosure rates and rationals of University graduates with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(4), Muchinsky, P. M. (2012). Psychology Applied to Work. NC: Hypergraphic Press. Price, L. A., Gerber, P.J. & Mulligan, R. (2007). Adults with learning disabilities and the underutilization of the Americans with disabilities Act. Remedial & Special Education, 28(6), Price, L. A., Gerber, P.J. & Mulligan, R. (2003). The Americans with Disabilities Act and adults with learning disabilities as employees: The realities of the workplace. Remedial & Special Education, 24(6), Popovich, P. M., Scherbaum, C. A., Scherbaum, K. L. & Polinko, N. (2003). The assessment of attitudes toward individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The Journal of Psychology, 137(2), Reisman, E. S., & Reisman, J. I. (1993). Supervision of employees with moderate special needs. Journal of Learning Disabilities, (26)3,

12 AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE 12 Smith, K., Webber, L., Graffam, J., & Wilson, C. (2004). Employer satisfaction, job-match and future hiring intentions for employees with a disability. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 21(3), United States Congress. (2008). ADA Amendments Act of Retrieved from

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