- Researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse universities found that employers in the accounting industry (the only sector in the research) appear to discriminate against qualified job candidates who also happen to have a disability.
- The job candidates were fairly identical with a single exception, a mention in cover letters of a disability.
- By sending faux résumés and tweaked cover letters representing disabled candidates for thousands of accounting jobs, the researchers found that employers expressed interest in candidates who disclosed a disability about 26% less frequently than in candidates who did not, according to a report in the New York Times.
“I don’t think we were astounded by the fact that there were fewer expressions of interest” for people with disabilities, Lisa Schur, a Rutgers political scientist, told the Times. “But I don’t think we were expecting it to be as large.”
Previous studies, for one reason or another, were not very good at rooting out the reasons why 34% of working-age people with disabilities were employed as of 2013, compared to 74% of those without disabilities, according to the Times. The Times also explained that the fictitious cover letter approach, which other scholars have used to document discrimination on the basis of race and gender, largely solved previous research issues in the disability area.
“These kinds of experiments are very important in research on discrimination, and to the best of my knowledge this is the first serious attempt to do this kind of experiment on disability discrimination in the United States,” David Neumark, a labor economist at the University of California, Irvine, who studies discrimination, told the Times. “The study is well done.”