On October 6th, I went to a presentation by Jessica Machado, the director for the office of disability resources at UMW on disability in the workplace.
She started out by discussing the legal definition of disability and how it applies to disability accommodations at the college. She then branched out into what constitutes employment discrimination (unfair treatment, harassment, denial of reasonable workplace change, etc.)
This spawned two very interesting discussions. First of all, she asked the crowd whether they would state that they were disabled during the job application process. Why or why not? The general consensus was probably not. There is too much of a risk in today’s society for people to judge you based on your disability and that isn’t the best first impression. Instead, the large majority of the crowd stated that they would either share that information later in the interview process or after they had been hired.
The other interesting discussion was what constituted reasonable workplace change. The responsibility to decide what is a reasonable accommodation falls on the employer. The reality is that each workplace is very different. Furthermore, some workplaces may be able to provide a specific accommodation that others cannot. A small business might struggle to be able to provide the same accommodations that a large corporation could provide.
The presentation wrapped up with the mention of a couple of sites that specifically work to help people with disabilities find jobs. These organizations are Workforce Recruitment Program and the Talent Acquisition Portal.