This Labor Day marks the 128th national celebration of the American worker.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 22 million working age people with disabilities in America. Yet, fewer than 1 in 3 persons with a disability has a job. People with disabilities are more likely to work part-time. For some this is the maximum potential given their medical impairment. But for many, this is because they cannot secure full-time work. Also, people with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 required employers to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Yet, today barriers to employment still exist.
Many barriers to employment include physical or structural barriers such as the need for ramps, wider doorways or special computer equipment assisting with visual or hearing needs. Judgment and stereotyping also impact employment opportunities. Program and policy barriers such as production quotas may also prevent employment.
People with disabilities often earn less than those without a disability as well. Section 14 ( c ) of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to pay people with disabilities below the federal minimum wage. While that encourages employment, it also traps individuals with disabilities into sub-standard poverty.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in four Americans may experience a disability in their lifetime. Disability affects all genders, age groups, ethnicities and economic demographics. With age, disability becomes more prevalent. With 70% of persons with disability excluded from the work force, employers may be missing out talent and skills in the disabled community. Happy Labor Day weekend!