Study: Employers Discriminate Against Qualified Workers with Disabilities

A study with more than 6,000 fictitious cover letters reveals employers are less likely to interview qualified applicants who disclose disabilities.

In the first field study of its kind in the United States, researchers sent out fictitious resumes and cover letters for advertised accounting jobs. The overall result: Employers expressed interest 26 percent less often in candidates who disclosed disabilities in cover letters.

“Field experimentation like this allows us to capture real-world experience,” says Mason Ameri, one of the researchers and a Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations doctoral candidate. Previous research on similar discrimination has centered on surveys of human resources personnel and company leaders and involved hypothetical scenarios, which researchers say may not always prompt honest responses.

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