disabled.jpgDerrick Morgan, who has cerebral palsy, worked as a manager for a California McDonald’s since 2006 but when new management took over things changed drastically for him.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the new owners of the Oakhurst restaurant, Alia Corp., illegally demoted Morgan and forced him the quit.

“This is a case where the company illegally stripped a well-qualified worker of his ability to earn a living due to misperceptions about his disability,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office.

Clearly there’s a problem in this country when it comes to employing individuals with disabilities. The unemployment rate for this group in March was 15.2 percent, almost double to the 8.1 percent rate for those without disabilities. And some experts have told me they suspect the joblessness among those with disabilities is much higher because many leave the labor force out of frustration.

And charges of disability discrimination filed with the EEOC have been rising steadily for the last decades, hitting a record 25,742 last year.

Morgan’s case goes to show that some employers are cool with employing disabled workers and some just don’t get it. Indeed, he was a valued employee to the previous owner.

It turns out there is a recipe that works when recruiting, hiring and keeping disabled workers, and a recent study sheds light on that approach.

The Society for Human Resource Management, known as SHRM, and the Cornell University ILR School Employment and Disability Institute released a joint report earlier this month that looked at employers that do this successfully and found they “are likely to follow 10 must-have policies and practices.”

“The survey provides fresh perspectives on how to proactively recruit and retain a significantly under-utilized pool of American talent,” said Susanne Bruyère, professor of disability studies, and director of the EDI at the Cornell University ILR School.

Here’s an overview of the findings:

The survey shows that 61 percent of human resource professionals said their organization “includes people with disabilities explicitly in its diversity and inclusion plan.”

Also key is that 59 percent of organizations have a policy that “requires subcontractors and suppliers to adhere to disability nondiscrimination requirements.”

The hiring organizations also “train HR staff and supervisors on effective interviewing of people with disabilities” said 58 percent of respondents.

Roughly six in 10—57 percent—of HR managers surveyed said their organization “has relationships with community organizations that promote the employment of people with disabilities.”

Additionally, organizations must “actively recruit people with disabilities” said 47 percent of HR professionals surveyed.

“Another critical must-have is to cultivate a senior management team committed to recruiting and hiring employees with disabilities,” said Mark Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM.

The survey also shows a distinction between the most-used, must-have policies and practices versus the most-effective of the 10. Some of the most effective practices are not the most used in the group.

Among the findings:
* 45 percent report “very effective” while 37 percent think it “somewhat effective”
training HR staff and supervisors on effective interviewing of people with disabilities;

* 38 percent report “very effective” while 30 percent say “somewhat effective”
requiring subcontractors and suppliers to adhere to disability nondiscrimination requirements;

* 34 percent report “very effective” while 31 percent say “somewhat effective”
creating explicit organizational goals related to the recruitment of hiring people with disabilities;

* 33 percent report “very effective” while 37 percent say “somewhat effective”
creating internship programs or similar programs that target people with disabilities; and

* 29 percent report “very effective” while 36 percent say “somewhat effective”
including people with disabilities explicitly in the organizations diversity and inclusion plan.

In the end it’s all about inclusion.

As for Morgan, the EEOC has sued his former employer, but the case is still in litigation, said Christine Park-Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the agency.

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