october 22nd–23rd, 2013 | washington, d.c.

Innovative Research on Employer Practices:
Improving Employment for People with Disabilities

A state of the science conference from the Rehabilitation and Research Training Center on Employer Practices Related to Employment Outcomes among Individuals with Disabilities. This two-day event highlighted the research findings from the Employer Practices Rehabilitation Research and Training Center at Cornell University ILR School's Yang-Tan Institute. It was a great success! Check back for reports and proceedings of the conference.

Discrimination Charges: Identifying Patterns and Employer Factors

Bio Sketches

Sarah von Schrader Photo

Sarah von Schrader, Ph.D., joined the Yang-Tan Institute (YTI), School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University as a Research Associate in June 2009, and now serves as the Assistant Director of Research at EDI. Sarah's research focuses on employer practices related to employer success in recruiting, hiring, and advancing individuals with disabilities. She has been working on a long term project using discrimination charge data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition to these and other research projects, Sarah evaluates the process and impact of several of the programs offered by the Yang-Tan Institute. Sarah received her doctorate in Education Measurement and Statistics from the University of Iowa in 2006 and bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Colorado College in 1994. Prior to coming to EDI, Sarah worked in the fields of health policy and management, educational testing, and evaluation.

Zafar Nazarov Photo

Zafar Nazarov, Ph.D., joined the Yang-Tan Institute (YTI), School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in November 2010. He is currently working as a Research Associate for the New York Makes Work Pay Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. Prior to joining EDI, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in population studies at the RAND Corporation. While working at the RAND Corporation, his principal area of interest was in the field of child physical and cognitive development. In particular, he explored causal associations between maternal input choices and child outcomes such as obesity and achievement tests, and his fellowship was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In his past work, he also explored the effect of Unemployment Insurance benefits on part-time versus full-time reemployment and wages using a variety of novel econometric techniques. His other research interests included the effect of a variety of welfare benefits on work transitions of workers injured at work, the effect of on-job training and education on innovation in transition economies, and the determination of the statistical definition for disability. Zafar earned his PhD in Economics in 2009 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his M.S. in Agricultural Economics and Experimental Statistics in 2004 from New Mexico State University, and his B. S. in Finance in 2002 from Tashkent Institute of Finance.

Ron Edwards's Photo

Ron Edwards, Ph.D., is the Director of the Program Research and Surveys Division with the Office of Research, Information and Planning at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As Division Director he performs three major functions for the Commission: the supervision of the Employer Survey Collection system that collects employment data from all employers with more than 100 employees, the provision of analytic support to class investigations and the conduct of program research. Research efforts range from the development of regulatory impact analyses to the development of statistical evidence of discrimination. He is also the co-author of a number of research reports issued by EEOC that utilize EEO-1 data and is available on that web site. This includes, "Retail Distribution Centers: How New Business Processes Impact Minority Labor Markets", "High End Department Stores, Their Access to and Use of Diverse Labor Markets", "Diversity in Law Firms" and "Glass Ceilings: The Status of Women as Officials and Managers in the Private Sector". He holds a PhD in Government and Public Administration from the American University.

Chai Feldblum Photo

Chai Feldblum was nominated to serve as a Commissioner of the EEOC by President Barack Obama, and was confirmed by the Senate, for a term ending on July 1, 2013. Prior to her appointment to the EEOC, Commissioner Feldblum was a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center where she has taught since 1991. At Georgetown, she founded the Law Center's Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, which represented clients such as Catholic Charities USA, the National Disability Rights Network, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. She also founded and co-directed Workplace Flexibility 2010, a policy enterprise focused on finding common ground between employers and employees on workplace flexibility issues. As Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union from 1988 to 1991, Commissioner Feldblum played a leading role in helping to draft and negotiate the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Later, as a law professor representing the Epilepsy Foundation, she was equally instrumental in the drafting and negotiating of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Commissioner Feldblum has also worked to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, has been one of the drafters of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and is the first openly lesbian Commissioner of the EEOC. She clerked for Judge Frank Coffin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals and for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun after receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She received her B.A. degree from Barnard College.

Conference Remarks

Sarah von Schrader and Zafar Nazarov present patterns in ADA-related charges and identifying where in the employment process the individuals are perceiving disability discrimination. Their current study deals with employer factors and employment disability discrimination charge receipts to understand where employer processes can be improved to maximize inclusion of people with disabilities.

Questions and Answers

Question, Participant:

So as someone who is attempting to implement, you know, policy around employment with people with psychiatric disabilities both, obviously, within the government, as well as throughout the country, this is amazingly important.

The issue is, and it came up yesterday, is after Sandy Hook and after the Navy Yard, there is an extreme concern both, internal within the government and what we're hearing from the field, in terms of revealing that you have particularly a hidden psychiatric disability.

And within our federal government clearance, we do have to go through that check box that, you know, asks about our medical condition, including psychiatric. And the concern now is, how much further is that going to go? And there are some cases in the country where judges, who have become familiar with situations, where a mother may have, what they may even term a mental health problem, have referred it on to the police. And we don't understand what's going on.

So there are a lot of these issues. And the biggest one is this issue of self-disclosing may have more problems than not disclosing. So it's something that's got to be discussed in a way that will help both for the federal employees. I mean, we do have people on Schedule A within SAMHSA. We advocate for it. But I think we are in a unique situation and I know it, myself.

And yet, the other way to get at some of this is to look at how many people, even within the federal government have actually gone through an ADA complaint. And I would question, because there is a lot of concern.

Answer, Commissioner Chai Feldblum:

Well, I just want to say that there's, obviously, in terms of self-identification, I think that's a huge issue. So within the federal government, if you want to use Schedule A, then you have to self-identify, obviously. What's sort of nice about this Applicant Flow Form -- and again, this is different from what's required under Section 503 regulations, where they do not have it anonymous.

But here we really have it, it's completely anonymous. This is completely aggregate data that we're trying to collect on the applicant side. The Standard Form 256, once you are actually on the job that, again, is not anonymous. It doesn't go to your own agency, it goes to OPM, but it's not anonymous.

But one of the things that I think will be helpful, at least, with the 503 regulation is, so many businesses will now be aware about how so many people are covered under the ADA definition of disability.

So it will help in terms of reasonable accommodation, you know, for folks on the job. But I think that in terms of the affirmative action, that in terms of really trying to get more people to be employed. That is, we can't get around, in a sense, the self-identification problem there.

And from my perspective, we just have to move up to the next level of social change, which is having people understand that, just because you have a psychiatric disability does not mean you are therefore violent, okay?

I mean, like really working on that on a social cultural level. But that's not going to happen immediately. And so obviously, there's a reason we put in the ADA the requirement that you may not ask people whether they have a disability until they have a conditional job offer. We did it for precisely that reason.

Now, there is an exception for affirmative action. I mean, there always has been an exception for affirmative action. If the reason you are asking people to self-identify is because you plan to give them some different procedures, some affirmative action, like Schedule A, or like whatever people might be doing for affirmative action under 503, then you may ask.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that people are only going to answer if they feel like what they're getting is going to be worth it, you know, and if they're ready to take on that stigma.

And again, for the manifest, that's why, for the manifest disabilities, that stigma happens the minute you walk in the door for the interview, you don't need to self-identify. So that's why it's just, you know, that's helpful, in terms of having the Schedule A, affirmative action, et cetera. But for the group that is a hidden disability, that's a difference.


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Plain Text Summaries.