Hiring Discrimination Against People with Disabilities Under the ADA: Characteristics of Charging Parties

  • Brian T. McMahon
  • Richard Roessler
  • Philip D. RumrillJr.
  • Jessica E. Hurley
  • Steven L. West
  • Fong Chan
  • Linnea Carlson


Introduction This article describes findings from a causal comparative study of the characteristics of Charging Parties who filed allegations of Hiring discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) between 1992 and 2005. Methods Charging Party Characteristics derived from 19,527 closed Hiring allegations are compared and contrasted to 259,680 closed allegations aggregated from six other prevalent forms of discrimination including Discharge and Constructive Discharge, Reasonable Accommodation, Disability Harassment and Intimidation, and Terms and Conditions of Employment. Tests of Proportion distributed as chi-square are used to form comparisons along a variety of factors including age, gender, impairment, and ethnicity. Results Most allegations of ADA job discrimination fall into the realm of job retention and career advancement as opposed to job acquisition. Hiring allegations, however, tend to be filed by Charging Parties who are disproportionately male, younger or older applicants, white, and coping with physical or sensory disabilities. Conclusion Prevailing theories about stigma suggest that negative attitudes are more prevalent toward persons with behavioral disabilities. However, this study provides clear evidence that one behavioral manifestation of negative attitudes, Hiring discrimination, is more often directed at persons with physical or sensory impairments. More outreach regarding ADA rights appears indicated for individuals who share the aforementioned characteristics.


Hiring discrimination Workplace discrimination  Employment Disabilities Americans with Disabilities Act Discrimination 



This study was supported through the VCU Coordination, Outreach and Research Center for the National Network of ADA Resource Centers, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education (PR# H133A060087). Appreciation is extended to Dr. Ronald Edwards, Office of Research, Information and Planning, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for his cooperation. The findings and interpretations expressed herein are those of the authors and not the EEOC. Database support was provided by Dr. Mehdi Mansouri.


  1. 1.
    Gutman A. EEO law and personnel policy. 2nd ed. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage Publications; 2000.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Batavia A, Schriner K. The Americans with disabilities Act as engine of social change: models of disability and the potential of a civil rights approach. Policy Studies Journal. 2001;29(4):690–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rubin S, Roessler R. Foundations of the vocational rehabilitation process. 6th ed. Austin, TX: PRO-ED; 2008.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Colker R. The disability pendulum. New York: New York University Press; 2005.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Endicott, S. Workplace accommodations. Paper presented at the Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, Northridge, CA: March, 2005.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Head L, Baker P. Workplace accommodations and ADA Title I: Policy and the metrics of “reasonable.” Paper presented at the Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, Northridge, CA: March, 2005.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Schramm J. SHRM workplace forecast. Alexandria VA: Society for Human Resource Management; 2006.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Schur L, Kruse D, Blanck P. Corporate culture and the employment of persons with disabilities. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 2005;2(1):3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    National Organization on Disability. 2004 N.O.D./Harris Survey. Washington, DC: NOD; 2004.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    National Organization on Disability. 1998 N.O.D./Harris Survey. Washington, DC: NOD; 1998.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    National Organization on Disability. 2000 N.O.D./Harris Survey. Washington, DC: NOD; 2000.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hernandez B, Keys C, Balcazar F. Employer attitudes toward workers with disabilities and their ADA employment rights: a literature review. Journal of Rehabilitation. 2000;66(4):4–16.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bricout J, Bentley K. Disability status and perceptions of employability by employers. Social Work Research. 2000;24(2):87–96.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pearson V, Ip F, Hui H, Yip N, Ho K, Lo E. To tell or not to tell: disability disclosure and job application outcomes. Journal of Rehabilitation. 2003;69(4):35–8.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    O’Hara B. Twice Penalized: employment discrimination against women with disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies. 2004;15(1):27–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Alston R, Bell T. Cultural mistrust and the rehabilitation enigma for African Americans. Journal of Rehabilitation. 1996;62(2):16–20.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hays P. Addressing the complexities of gender and culture in counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development 1996;74(4):332–7.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Unger D, Rumrill P, Hennessey M. Resolutions of ADA Title I cases involving people who are visually impaired: A comparative analysis. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness 2005;99(8):453–63.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Unger D, Campbell L, McMahon B. Workplace discrimination and mental retardation: the national EEOC ADA research project. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. 2005;23(3):145–54.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    McMahon B, Shaw L, West S, Waid-Ebbs K. Workplace discrimination and spinal cord injury: the national EEOC ADA research project. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. 2005;23(3):155–62.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lowman D, West S, McMahon B. Workplace discrimination and Americans with cerebral palsy: the national EEOC ADA research project. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. 2005;23(3):171–7.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Findlaw. One in five Americans has experienced employment discrimination. 2004. Accessed July 14, 2005.
  23. 23.
    McMahon BT, Shaw L. Workplace discrimination and disability. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. 2005;23(3):137–43.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Roessler R, Rumrill P. Promoting reasonable accommodations: An essential postemployment service. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counselling. 1995;26(4):3–7.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Roessler R, Neath J, McMahon B, Rumrill P. Workplace discrimination outcomes and their predictive factors for adults with multiple sclerosis. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. 2007;50(3):203–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hagner D. Job development and job search assistance. In: Szymanski E, Parker R, editors. Work and disability. 2nd edn. Austin, TX: PRO-ED; 1999. p. 342–72.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Rumrill P, Roessler R. New directions in vocational rehabilitation: a career development perspective on closure. Journal of Rehabilitation. 1999;65(1):26–30.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Brodwin M. Rehabilitation in the private-for-profit sector: opportunities and challenges. In Rubin S, Roessler R, editors. Foundations of the vocational rehabilitation process. 5th ed. Austin, TX: PRO-ED; 2001. p. 475–96.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Sheffield J. Navigating current trends under the ADA. Employer Relations Law Journal. 2005;31(1):3–20.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Holiday v. City of Chattanooga, 2000 FED App. 0087P (6th Cir.); 2000.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Gilbride D, Stensrud R, Ehlers C, Evans E, Peterson C. Employers’ attitudes toward hiring persons with disabilities and vocational rehabilitation services. Journal of Rehabilitation. 2000;66(4):17–23.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Blanck P. Justice for all? stories about Americans with disabilities and their civil rights. Journal of Gender Race and Justice. 2004;8(1):1–30.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Waterstone M. The untold story of the rest of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Vanderbilt Law Review. 2005;58(6):1805–83.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Davidson v. America Online, 337 F.3d. 1179;2003.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Fabian E, Coppola J. Vocational rehabilitation competencies in psychiatric rehabilitation education. Rehabilitation Education. 2001;15(1):133–42.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Spaniol L. Recovery from psychiatric disability: Implications for rehabilitation counseling education. Rehabilitation Education. 2001;15:167–75.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Brown D & Associates. Career choice and development. Fourth edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ryan D. Job search handbook for people with disabilities. Indianapolis: JIST; 2005.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Cook J, Burke J. Public policy and employment of people with disabilities: exploring new paradigms. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 2002;20(6):541–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Job Accommodation Network: Accessed July 14 2005.
  41. 41.
    Roessler RT, Rubin SE. Case management, rehabilitation counseling. 4th ed. Austin TX: PRO-ED; 2006.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Bell B, Klein K. Effects of disability, gender, and job level on ratings of job applicants. Rehabilitation Psychology. 2001;46(3):229–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Chatterjee L, Mitra M. Evolution of Federal and State policies for persons with disability in the United States: Efficiency and welfare impacts. Annals Regional Science. 1998;32(3):347–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Lent R. A social cognitive view of career in counseling. In Brown S, Lent R, editors. Career development and counseling. New York: John Wiley; 2005. p. 101–30.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Balcazar F, Keys C, Suarez Y. Empowering Latinos with disabilities to address issues of independent living and disability rights. In Keys C, Dowrick P, editors. People with disabilities: empowerment and community action. New York: Haworth; 2001. p. 53–70.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian T. McMahon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard Roessler
    • 3
  • Philip D. RumrillJr.
    • 4
  • Jessica E. Hurley
    • 5
  • Steven L. West
    • 5
  • Fong Chan
    • 6
  • Linnea Carlson
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Rehabilitation CounselingVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources, and Communication DisordersUniversity of Arkansas at FayettevilleFayettevilleUSA
  4. 4.Disability Institute Kent State UniversityKentUSA
  5. 5.Department of Rehabilitation CounselingVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  6. 6.Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special EducationUniversity of Wisconsin at MadisonMadisonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Educational Foundations and Special ServicesKent State UniversityKentUSA

Personalised recommendations