This Is How Employers Weed Out Disabled Individuals From Their Hiring Swimming pools

Applying for a job is a daunting task, but it is even more difficult for people with disabilities – the largest and one of the most underemployed minority groups in the world. When I came across a job ad on Newsday’s careers website last Monday listing the job requirements for mobility, strength, weight, and height, I was shocked.

The job advertisement advertised a general reporter role for the Long Island-based New York newspaper. In addition to the actual job-related functions such as “ability to get the word out” and “meet tight deadlines”, bullet points were listed in the publication that require the ability to “reach, bend, lift, push, pull at least 25 lbs and to wear “and the” ability to enter a minimum of 40 wpm. ” Another point was that the role was a sedentary desk job that required “the ability to sit for extended periods of time up to a full 8-hour shift.”

This listing was especially outrageous to me because I am a disabled journalist and began my career in 2016 as a summer intern at amNewYork, a Newsday-owned publication dealing with New York City. During my internship, I scored front-page bylines, shot multiple cover photos on assignment, interviewed celebrities on the red carpet, and made some incredible friends. Even though I was an intern, my managers treated me seriously like I was a full-time reporter.

When I saw this listing online, I had to think of the journalism students and prospective reporters with disabilities who may have seen them and decided not to apply. So I decided to publicly ask Newsday on Twitter why the organization included not just one of these qualifications but also several of their job postings – including one for a research director and a compliance analyst.

A Newsday job posting for a Circulation Compliance Analyst that has been deleted and re-uploaded since June 10th.

Within minutes, dozens of reporters and people with disabilities had liked and shared my Twitter thread. Some people asked Newsday to cross the list while others said they had seen similar language on job postings in other industries.

A few hours later, I checked the Newsday employment website again. The vast majority of job advertisements had been removed and only five remained. The listings were soon replaced with new ones that did not contain the original problematic language.

Kim Grabina-Como, communications manager at Newsday, sent me an apology.

“The job posting you originally referred to was incorrectly posted, did not accurately reflect Newsday’s requirements for reporting positions, and has now been corrected. We apologize for the mistake and any misunderstandings, ”wrote Grabina-Como.

“Newsday has a long and proud track record of recruiting and hiring people,” Grabina-Como added in a telephone interview on Friday, although she would not disclose how many people with disabilities Newsday actually employs.

The job posting you originally referred to was incorrectly posted, did not accurately reflect Newsday’s requirements for reporting positions, and has now been corrected. We apologize for the mistake and any misunderstandings.

– Kim Grabina-Como (@KimGrabinaComo) June 10, 2019

Job offers that discourage applicants with disabilities from applying are by no means limited to the Newsday careers page. They are common in all professional industries, from news media to finance to higher education. At ZipRecruiter, a search for “typing skills” leads to nearly 300 job postings, although speech recognition software is often viewed as a reasonable accommodation and the phrase “£ 25” leads to more than 950 job openings for roles such as finance director, secretary and sales representative.

In March, Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois posted a vacancy for an Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion, stating, among other things, “Access to non-ADA-compliant buildings is possible.” The Disability Policy Consortium, an organization that promotes disabilities, called Bradley University out for its hypocrisy in a Facebook post, saying the job ad was “a blatant example of how disabilities are left out of academic diversity and inclusion efforts.”

The job was shared more than 1,000 times and the university apologized and removed the request from the job.

The reality is that many jobs require physical mobility – construction work and fire fighting, for example. In these cases, potential candidates may find it helpful to include “key roles” in a job posting to determine if they need to request accommodation to perform the required duties. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, job advertisements should focus on the job itself rather than a person’s various skills.

“For example, a storage location may require boxes to be stacked on shelves. The main function of this job is that boxes are stacked and not that one person lifts boxes, ”says the department’s website.

It is all too common, however, for career sites to use terms such as “the ability to speak and hear” or “the ability to bend, kneel, crouch, or crawl” to describe job functions that are relevant to the job Are Not “Material” According to Robyn Powell, a disability law and policy attorney, people with a variety of disabilities who might otherwise be able to do the job are effectively screened.

While the ability to “reach, flex, lift, push, pull, and carry at least 25 pounds” might be important for a fitness instructor, the requirement for a reporter or market researcher is more dubious.

“People with disabilities are completely underemployed. One of the reasons is discrimination in the workplace, “said Powell, who is herself disabled. “When you see these types of job postings, it’s no surprise that they don’t work at the same pace as their undactivated counterparts.”

Companies have many options for listing professional qualifications in more general, open language. A news agency in need of a reporter who can produce content, for example, could list a certain number of stories per day rather than a typing speed, said Kristin Gilger, director of the National Center for Disability and Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School for Journalism and Mass Communication.

“It’s open to people who say, ‘I can get what you ask, but I need a place to do it in a different way,” Gilger said. “The point is, you can do the job ? “

“When you’re applying for a job, the last thing you want to do is rock the boat.”

– Robyn Powell, disabled attorney

The American with Disabilities Act, which bans discrimination based on disability, applies to employment from the time the job is posted, not just once someone is hired, Powell said. In interviews, employers can ask candidates if they can perform a certain role, but they cannot ask specifically about the type or severity of their disability – something I was personally asked several times while looking for a job.

This means that disabled candidates could theoretically file an ADA application if they saw a problematic job advertisement. In reality, however, it is extremely difficult to prove discrimination in the workplace. One disadvantage of the ADA is that the person who has been discriminated against has a duty to speak up, Powell said. For many job seekers, filing a lawsuit isn’t high on their to-do list.

“I encountered a lot of discrimination in my application and recruitment. I never did anything when I could, and that’s because I was looking for a job, ”said Powell. “When you’re applying for a job, the last thing you want to do is rock the boat.”

Job candidates are not the only ones to miss out when a disability unfairly costs them a job. A better bottom line is achieved in different workplaces, and people with disabilities are particularly innovative workers as they have to navigate a world that is instead designed for people with disabilities.

“Because you want to attract the best possible people to your place of work, you don’t want to discourage a number of highly skilled people who don’t want to apply because they see these kinds of demands,” said Gilger.

Job postings that describe certain working conditions as “material” can also set harmful, unrealistic expectations for current employees. For example, listings often state that workers have to sit for extended periods of up to eight hours – but this is not a reasonable expectation for a disabled person or other person.

“That’s ridiculous. Nobody should sit for eight hours,” said Gilger. “It’s just not good for people’s health.”

Elizabeth Estochen, 28, a full-time editor based in Denver, said she has seen mobility qualifications in almost every single job she has ever applied for. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 14, which has evolved over the years. Despite having a steady job, Estochen said she was worried about running into similar job openings in the future if her scoliosis worsens – which it already is. A few months ago she had two herniated discs.

“During this time, I was fortunate that this job was already pinned where I could work remotely and work from my bed for a week. I’ve really been thinking, ‘God, what would happen if I lost this job and had to find another one?’ ”

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