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Nearly one-third of white-collar workers have disabilities

California readers may be surprised to learn that approximately 30 percent of college-educated, white-collar workers have a federally defined disability of some sort. This information comes from a new study by the Center for Talent Innovation.

Despite nearly one-third of employees having a disability, the study found that only 3.2 percent report their conditions to employers for federal tracking by the National Organization on Disability. Further, 62 percent of those with disabilities have "invisible" conditions, meaning ones that are difficult or impossible to spot at a glance. More than a third of employees with invisible disabilities said that they have been discriminated against. Meanwhile, 44 percent of those with visible disabilities reported some form of discrimination.

According to the study, only 21 percent of employees with disabilities notified the human resources department of their condition and 39 percent notified their managers. This underreporting sometimes prevents employers the opportunity to make reasonable accommodations for workers to do their jobs more effectively. The research also indicated that 57 percent of employees with disabilities said they felt "stalled" in their career path. Only 44 percent of workers without disabilities felt similarly held back at work. The study surveyed 1,570 American workers. It also polled employees in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees with disabilities. This law requires that all employers make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled workers can do their jobs properly. If someone with disabilities experiences workplace discrimination, he or she may have grounds to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. California employees could learn more about their rights by discussing their cases with an employment attorney.

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