Evidence for Differential Accommodation Requesting and Granting Rates. Presented by Katherine Breward, PhD University of Winnipeg

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1 Evidence for Differential Accommodation Requesting and Granting Rates Presented by Katherine Breward, PhD University of Winnipeg 1

2 Many, many studies have demonstrated that people with disabilities experience disproportionately high rates of unemployment, underemployment, turnover, and job insecurity. Efforts to improve labour force outcomes for this group have focused on equity legislation and the provision of accommodations to assist workers with disabilities. Legislation means that in theory all workers with disability-related needs should be granted accommodations regardless of other aspects of their identity. In reality this is not always the case. 2

3 In 2005 fully fifty percent of all complaints filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleged discrimination on the basis of disability. Seventyfive percent of those complaints arose from employment related issues. The Human Rights Commission formally evaluated the impact of the Employment Equity Act in The people on the Commission observed that persons with disabilities have made the least amount of progress of the four equality seeking groups. A comprehensive survey conducted in Canada found that 43% of unemployed people with disabilities were prevented from looking for work because of environmental barriers including lack of transportation, need for job redesign, or the need for modified work hours. Source: Lynk. (2008) Disability and Work: The Transformation of the Legal Status of Employees with Disabilities in Canada, working paper available online at SSRN: or 3

4 A generalization made about a group concerning a trait attribution which is considered to be unjustified by an observer (Brigham, 1971, p.29) Highly organized social categories that have properties of cognitive schemata (Andersen, Klatzky, and Murray, 1990, p.192) Qualities perceived to be associated with particular groups or categories of people (Schneider, 2004, p.24) Brigham, J. (1971) Ethnic Stereotypes Psychological Bulletin 76, pp Andersen, S.; Klatzky, R.; Murray, J. (1990) Traits and Social Stereotypes: Efficiency Differences in Social Information Processing Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 59, pp Schneider, D. (2004). The Psychology of Stereotyping. Guilford Press, New York, NY. 4

5 Often a completely non-conscious process. Leads to false attributions (attribution error). Effects have been widely documented in a broad range of employment contexts. 5

6 The United Nations defines intersectionality as an attempt to capture the consequences of the interaction between two or more forms of subordination and address the manner in which systems create inequalities that structure the relative position of persons. This intersectional approach requires acknowledgement that no identity group is homogeneous and the complex intersections of multiple identity statuses require careful attention. For a quick mental demonstration of intersectional stereotyping please close your eyes. 6

7 Disability researchers have observed that whereas there is a substantial body of literature on the interacting effects of race and gender, research on the interaction between disability and other stigmatizing characteristics is almost nonexistent. Erevelles and Minear went so far as to say that that the omission of disability as a critical category in discussions of intersectionality has disastrous and sometimes deadly consequences for disabled people of color caught at the violent interstices of multiple differences. Shaw, L.; Chan, F.; McMohan, B.; (2012) Intersectionality and Disability Harassment: The Interactive Effects of Disability, Race, Age, and Gender, Rehabilitation Counselling Bulletin, 55, 2, 82-89, quote taken from page 83. Erevelles, N. (2010) Unspeakable Offenses and Untangling Race and Disability in Discourses of Intersectionality, Journal of Literacy and Cultural Disability Studies, p

8 Addressing the Gap 8

9 Do intersectional identities (combined gender, age, ethnicity, and immigration status) impact accommodation requesting rates? If so, how? Do intersectional identities (combined gender, age, ethnicity, and immigration status) impact accommodation granting rates? If so, how? 9

10 Theory of Planned Behaviour Attitudes towards a given behaviour Subjective norms (logics of appropriateness) Behavioural controls Fear of Prejudice/Stigma Avoidance Motivation to Appear Unprejudiced Ajzen, Icek (1991). "The theory of planned behavior". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50 (2): doi: / (91)90020-t.

11 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), 2006 A post-census survey conducted by Statistics Canada. Uses the national census as a sampling frame to identify respondents with activity limitations and selects a nationally representative stratified random sample from that group. 22,513 respondents (includes children). My sub-sample:5,418 adults over 18 who held paid jobs when the survey was administered. The self-employed and individuals who did not report needing at least one workplace accommodation were excluded. 11

12 The following intersectional predictors were tested along with a series of control variables representing disability type, disability severity, organizational status, and occupation/industry: gender X immigration status gender X visible minority status gender X age gender X immigration status X visible minority status gender X immigration status X visible minority status X age immigration status X visible minority status immigration status X age immigration status X visible minority status X age visible minority status X age age X gender X immigration status 12

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18 There was evidence of intersectional effects BUT A theory of planned behaviour/stigma avoidance based model of accommodation requesting was NOT supported. Still investigating the patterns in the data for alternate explanations 18

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23 This graph indicates that when broken down into 6 sub-categories similar effects can be observed for each group. Visible minorities are always more likely to receive needed technical interventions than Caucasians. Females are more likely to receive their needed technical intervention than males. The group most likely to receive their accommodation is female, an immigrant, and a visible minority. The group least likely to receive their accommodation are males who are immigrants and Caucasian. 23

24 Evidence of motivation to appear unprejudiced. Gender role congruency effects: more support for women who are perceived as vulnerable, less support for men who are perceived as vulnerable. Effects due to perceived economic or social threat? (Less support for those who pose the greatest perceived threat.) Disability origin as a confounding factor (perceived fault). 24

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26 Confirmed the relevance of intersectional identities for accommodation requesting and granting. Subsequent research should use appropriate data collection and statistical methods to enable finding these types of effects. 26

27 Human Rights Commission cases do not currently address intersectionality issues, instead they deal with disability cases as if the disability itself was the only relevant factor. This can impact the outcome of decisions and the types and degree of damages granted. Example: In Billy-Joe Nachuk versus Brandon Police Services the complainant s aboriginal identity may have contributed to the officers inappropriate and negative response to his service dog s presence in a restaurant/bar. That is not acknowledged in the human rights tribunal decision, which focuses solely on the disability-based discrimination he experienced. 27

28 Avoid bias by having formal policies and procedures for accommodation. Have a transparent process for accommodation related decisions. Institute a formal appeal process. Have multiple decision makers who independently assess each case to minimize the possibility of bias. Perform medical assessments rather than allowing lay people to make decisions about the validity of a disability claim. Provide training to managers about their disability accommodation responsibilities. Have a central budget for disability accommodations, do not take away from existing departmental budgets for this purpose. 28

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