Only 18 percent of Americans with disabilities are employed

Although it has been illegal for employers to discriminate against workers and applicants with disabilities for more than 20 years in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S., a recent news report suggests that this type of discrimination is still very common. Only 18 percent of Americans with disabilities of working age are currently employed, and this is actually down 2 percent from 2009. According to the Associated Press, these numbers have been relatively stable since the Americans with Disabilities Act outlawed discrimination in employment in 1990.

A representative of the National Council on Disability explains in the Associated Press report that this may be due to stubborn prejudices employers hold against those with disabilities.

The ADA prohibits discrimination not only in employment, but also in public transportation, public accommodations and public services. It appears that there may have been more progress in these other areas since 1990 than in employment.

There is one area where people with disabilities may be having less trouble finding employment. From 2010 to 2011, the federal government has hired about 19,000 people with disabilities, making up 15 percent of all new hires.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is also working to help break down the superficial employment barriers facing those with disabilities by enacting a number of initiatives. And, the U.S. Labor Department is considering requiring employers with federal contracts to hire people with disabilities.

It is important that employers here in Wisconsin and throughout the country comply with the ADA. The ADA applies to all employers who have at least 15 employees, and it protects those who are disabled, have a history of disability or are perceived as disabled. Those who have been discriminated against in hiring or in the workplace on the basis of a disability might wish to seek legal counsel regarding their rights and options to hold the employer accountable.

Source: Associated Press, “Little progress in last couple decades getting more people with disabilities into workforce,” March 25, 2013

  • Our employment law firm in Milwaukee handles discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to protect the rights of workers here in Wisconsin.


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