People with Disabilities in the Workplace

This paper shall explain in detail about people with a disability in the workplace. It will also describe a few aspects of equal employment opportunity for people with a disability. And will also shed light on the various aspects of human resource like recruitment and selection, training and development and performance appraisal of employees with a disability. And this paper also provides some affirmative action’s that will be taken by the HR department to correct the injustice done to the people with a disability. People with a Disability in the Workplace Disability can be defined as a lack of ability in a person.

Disability is basically of 4 types. They are 1) physical impairment (which would include sensory impairment), 2) intellectual impairment (which will include development disability or leaning disability), 3) mental disorder (which would include mental illness and cognitive disability) and 4) chronic diseases (which would include HIV/AIDS and polio etc. ). Disability can happen to a person in his or her life span, it is not necessary that it can happen from birth the disability that is. In December 2006, the United Nations formed ‘Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability’.

This treaty was the 21st century’s first human right treaty. This treaty helps to protect the rights and the opportunities of the world’s 650 million disabled people. Countries that sign to this treaty have to give up their old rules and regulations and adopt the United Nations ones to safeguard the rights of people who have disability impairment. For example, people who are disabled have equal rights to get an education, be employed, have a cultural life, the right to own their own property or inherit it and they have the rights not to be discriminated if they want to get married and have children etc.

(Goldstein & Weiner, 2003) In a survey it was found that out of every five Americans at least one has disability impairment. And it has also been found that approximately 70% of the disabled people are unemployed. It should be remembered by the employers that people with disability have a very unique perspective and that the employers should take advantage of it. For example, if companies employ people with a disability, the company would be able to learn about that particular market and they will be able to target it.

Equal Employment Opportunity All companies whether they are traditional or learning organizations are faced with equal employment challenges. All companies portray that they provide equal employment opportunity to everyone. The equal employment opportunity law basically requires that the managers and the human resource departments to provide applicants an equal opportunity without any regard to race, religion, sex, disability, pregnancy, national origin or age.

The laws have an impact on every HR activity of the company like planning, recruiting, selection, and placement, training, compensation, development and employee relations. EEO laws basically seek to end discrimination in employment based on race, colour, religion, disability, national origin, sex, pregnancy and age (over 40). The equal employment constraints are based upon three origins and these origins are as follows:- • Federal Acts • State and Local Legislation • Executive Orders of the President

The Federal Equal Employment Act is a very important group of law that forms the basis for nearly all the equal employment opportunity. This Act includes the following laws: 1. Title VII: of the civil rights act basically attempts to ensure that there is equal employment opportunity by prohibiting discrimination in hiring, promotion, compensation and other conditions of employment. Discrimination in employment based on race, colour, religion, disability, national origin, sex and pregnancy is considered to be illegal.

This act includes the following; disparate treatment, disparate impact, sexual harassment, exceptions, employer retaliation, remedies and enforcement. (Dipboye & Colella, 2005) 2. Disabilities act: for example a person who has recovered from a heart attack but is discriminated against, the person would be considered to have a record of impairment. The employers of the company are required to undertake reasonable accommodations to adjust working environment to meet with the special needs of the disabled.

What the company should do is that it can put in a ramp for the disabled person who is in a wheel-chair. 3. Equal pay act: it must be remembered that in these times a great deal of households are being run by women and it is seen that women are paid less even if they are at the same position as a man. Equal pay act was passed in 1963 by the Congress this act makes sure that the employers pay the right amount of wage for the work that is done by anyone, whether it is a male or female, black or white, able or disabled.

Jobs are considered equal when women and men work at the same place and their jobs require substantially the same kind of skills, efforts and responsibility and when they have the working conditions as well (CBC News, 2005). 4. Age discrimination in employment: means that sometimes it so happens that the individuals who are looking for employment are denied for a job, even if he or she is qualified, because of the age factor. The law prohibits discrimination against individuals who are 40 and above in age.

For example this law specifies that the employers use an equal benefit standard when the company is granting benefits to the employees, this law requires that the older workers receive benefits at least equal to those of the younger employees unless the cost of providing employee would be more than that of the younger employee. 5. Family and medical leave act: family and medical leave act (FMLA) was passed in the 1993. This act requires that the employees have the right to take unpaid leaves under certain circumstances instead of facing with permanent dismissal from the job.

The act requires the employers with employees 50 or more to grant them i. e. the employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period. Americans with Disability Act Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was passed by the Congress in the year 1990. This act makes sure that employers do not discriminate against any employee who might be in any way disabled. Disability can be defined as a lack of ability in a person it can physical or a mental impairment. For example a person who has recovered from a heart attack but is discriminated against, the person would be considered to have a record of impairment.

The employers of the company are required to undertake reasonable accommodations to adjust working environment to meet with the special needs of the disabled. What the company should do is that it can put in a ramp for the disabled person who is in a wheel-chair. Another example would be to provide a non-smoking section for the individuals who are allergic to smoke. It is not considered necessary that the companies hire people who are disabled until or unless if they are qualified for the job they should be given an equal employment opportunity.

The law only discriminates against those individuals who are illegal drug users or have some sort of a sexual disorder or are compulsive gamblers. The alcoholics and people who have been infected by HIV/AIDS are also covered in this act because they do not pose a direct health of safety threat to others. And now people with obesity have been included in this act. Lets put it simply that a person who is differently abled cannot be discriminated against any sort of employment, if he or she can perform their work activities efficiently, when they have been reasonably accommodated by the respective employers.

And in case if discrimination occurs against a person with a disability in the workplace, then enforcement provisions of Title VII of the Civil Acts Rights will be applied by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) first case under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) resulted with a $572,000 win; a director of a security firm was rewarded with the winnings of the case because the director was terminated from his job when the company found out that he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

(Dipboye & Colella, 2005) Diversity in a Workplace Diversity is the difference that exists between the people like the different countries they belong too. Within this diversity of national origins there is an even wider diversity of cultures, religions, languages, dialects, educational attainment, skills, values, ages, races, genders and other differentiating variables. Knowledge of these variations challenges the mangers and the HR professionals in the organizations to develop proactive policies and practices.

For example, in a study it was found that workforce diversity lowered the psychological attachment of group members to the organization, calling for more proactive efforts by the human resource department in the face of increased diversity. Knowledge about diversity comes from personal observations and from demography, the statistical study of population characteristics. For example, the workforce demographics describe its composition; education level, race, age, sex, percentage of the population participating in the workforce and other characteristics like disability of employees in the workplace.

The changes in the workforce demographics usually are known in advance, they occur slowly and are very well measured. Having a diverse culture in a company is considered to be a beneficial process that will help in an employee’s growth while it also increases the cultural sensitivity and as well as the mentoring skills of the HR department members, it is considered to be a 2 way process, the employees teach their supervisors or mentors while they are learning from them.

If there is a diverse culture in a company, there will be a health competition between the employees and the result of that competition would be that the employees will do well in their work activities and the company will be able to retain its employees. Acceptance of diversity is becoming especially important because of socio-cultural changes and the changing of workforce. Recruitment and Selection Recruitment is mostly concerned with attracting and finding individuals who are capable for employment.

The recruitment process begins s when the new recruits are sought and this process ends when the applicant submits and application. People who find new recruits are called recruiters. The process of hiring is faced with some limitations like costs, incentives, job requirements, policies of the company, environment conditions, insufficient and scarce resources and EEO legislation. And selection is defined as a process that is based on specific steps that are used to describe that which individual should be hired.

This process starts when the individual applies for the job and it ends when the final decision is made by the management of the company. The selection process is also faced with some limitations like EEO legislation, workforce diversity and external prohibitions etc. (Holmes, 2007) It must be remembered by the employers that the disabled workers provide a large pool of talent, and this talent of pool is untapped, why, because usually the human resource representatives are not interested in hiring people with a disability.

But proactive human resource department are very much interested not only in going according with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) but also wanting to improve their companies effectiveness and efficiency but hiring people with a disability. For example, Pizza Hut began an innovative recruitment program for the people with a disability long before the passing of Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The organization realized that there where somewhere around 8 million disabled people without work.

Viewing its need for entry – level workers and seeing a large pool of potential recruits, Pizza Hut began a successful program in Orange County, California, USA, to hire individuals who were physically impaired along with individuals who where mentally impaired as well. When the proactive departments of HR are hiring people with a disability they tend to follow the following procedures under the Americans with Disability Act. The departments usually consider the following measures.

They are as follows:- • If the company is hiring people with hearing impairment, the company then provides them with telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD), so that it makes it easier for these people and it makes the working environment a little less hostile. • The company makes the application area assessable for the applicants in a wheelchair. And when the building of the company is under renovation the management advocates for them.

• When the company is recruiting and selecting people who are differently abled, the HR department makes and alternative application form for them, and when they are being selected there are different testing devices that are being used for such applicants. • Companies who are hiring employees with a disability are usually recruited from community organizations, which specialize in assisting the disabled to get jobs and these community organizations also develop good relation with disabled student coordinators at vocational and as public schools, colleges and universities.

• When the company is advertising about placements in their company, they need to remember their commitment to equal employment opportunity (which would also include people with disability impairment) and they should make it clear in their advertisement about it. (Goldstein & Weiner, 2003) • And if the differently abled people are employed the company, then the management should accommodated them with devices, which would make them more productive and efficient at their job.

• The management needs to make sure that the working conditions of the company should the atmosphere of respect for their employees (including both able and disable). • And when the company is filing places in their company, they should ask for referrals from their disabled employees as well like they would from their other employees. Training and Development The training and development is concerned with that placing the employees in a job does not give the company the surety that the individual would be successful in his or her job.

Training and development programs are considered important for all the employees, when those employees who have a disability. The distinction between training and development is that training is for now and development is for the future. The HR department has to make sure that the employees who have disability impairment have access to all training and development opportunities, those opportunities which are accessible to the employees who do not have disability impairment.

Therefore if the disabled employees are given the same opportunity as the other employees, they will be trained and developed like the other employees and will be functioning in the same manner as the others (Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, n. d). Performance Appraisal Performance appraisal is the evaluation of an employee’s current or past performances relative to his or her performance standard. In this competitive world companies require a high performance so that they can become dominant leaders in their perspective markets.

And at the same time employees also need feedback on their performance so that it can act as a guide for their future behavior and responsibilities. The performance appraisal of the employees with a disability should do in the same exact manner as it is done for other employees. The HR department should make sure that there is no bias when the appraisal is being done like halo effect or personal prejudice etc. and the outcome of this would be that the employees with a disability will continue to work for the company and they will develop to their full potential.

(Goldstein & Weiner, 2003) Affirmative Actions The organization needs to take affirmative actions towards any kind of discrimination is done within the company. Affirmative action mostly refers to the management’s effort to correct the results of any past discrimination that was done against a protected class. These actions are basically written plans that show goals and objectives for hiring, training, promoting and compensating the people of the protected classes by the EEO laws and other laws that protect the laws of the protected groups.

The management has to make sure for the future that any kind of discrimination does not occur again therefore the management of the company has to develop affirmative action plans voluntarily. The EEOC compliance is one of the main responsibilities of the HR department of the organization, the HR experts and managers have to develop a plan that would achieve the organization’s action goals in the least disruptive way. The affirmative action plans have to follow the steps if the HR department wants to make this program a success. The following steps are as follows:-

• Exhibit strong employer commitment and appoint a high ranking director • Publicize commitment internally and externally and survey the workforce for underutilization and concentration • Develop goals and timetables and design remedial and preventive programs • Establish control systems and reporting procedures (International Labor Organization, 2002). Equal employment laws have a huge impact on the practice of the HR management and its activities. The challenge of the equal employment gives the HR department a great deal of power within the organization.

There is a way that the HR department can reduce the discrimination based causes (against people with a disability), if the department considers the impact these causes have in the HR activities. For example recruiting must ensure that all types of applicants (even with a disability) will be sought by the company without any sort of discrimination. Or the performance appraisals of the employees will be free from any sort of biases that discriminate an employee of the company. References CBC News (2005), DISABILITY MATTERS: Wishing for self-management. Retrieved on 11th February’09 from http://www.

cbc. ca/news/viewpoint/vp_disabilitymatters/quon_20050218. html> Dipboye, R L. & Colella, A. (2005), Discrimination at Work: The Psychological and Organizational Bases. Routledge Goldstein, A M. & Weiner, I B. (2003), Forensic Psychology: Forensic Psychology. John Wiley and Sons Haynes, S (n. d. ) A Study of Advanced Manufacturing Technology as a Workplace Accommodation in a Manufacturing Environment. Retrieved on 11th February’09 from < http://www. workplacererc. org/News/04june20_3. php> Holmes, T E (2007), Diversity in the workplace: Creating Workplace Opportunities for People with Disabilities.

Retrieved on 11th February’09 from < http://www. boston. com/jobs/diversity/062003/div_0603_2. shtml> International Labor Organization (2002), Managing disability in the workplace. Retrieved on 11th February’09 from <http://www. ilo. org/public/libdoc/ilo/2002/102B09_340_engl. pdf> Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois (n. d. ), People with Disabilities, Employment & the Workplace: A Ready-Reference Guide for Illinois Businesses. Retrieved on 11th February’09 from http://www. silcofillinois. org/pwd-employment-workplace. htm