How to handle job applications that reveal a disability

As a hiring manager, what should you do when a résumé or cover letter reveals the applicant has a disability?

Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are meant to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and other areas of life. However, for some employers this may appear to be a trap with its own set of problems, and some would rather avoid the whole situation than put themselves at risk.

A recent study by Rutgers and Syracuse universities found that employers expressed interest in candidates who disclosed a disability about 26 percent less frequently than in candidates who did not.

So, how should businesses handle these situations? An article in the December issue of the HR Specialist Employment Law Newsletter offered some guidance:

  • Don’t allow hiring managers to quickly sort résumés from disabled applicants into the “No” pile. It’s an increasingly popular practice … but decidedly unlawful.
  • Even if an employer believes it won’t be able to accommodate the person’s disability on the job, that doesn’t give it a green light to pass over the applicant during the initial hiring stages.
  • Think twice before you reject an application from an otherwise qualified candidate who revealed a disability or a need for a reasonable accommodation in the hiring process. You may be passing over someone who would be an excellent fit for the position.

Click here to read the entire article.


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