Fighting Your Battles - and winning them!

Tips for the disabled at work

If you are a disabled individual, and have ever searched for a job, you have probably encountered what you perceive to be discrimination. If you are employed, it is also likely you have encountered issues that appear to be one-sided and against you. The key to fighting these battles is knowing which ones are valid and which ones aren't.

Discrimination, though often masked as something else, is more common than most people would like to think. Many people are turned down for jobs because of their disability, even though they are given a completely different reason when an inquiry is made. This does not mean, however, that every rejection is due to discrimination. When deciding which battles to fight and which ones to let go, ask yourself what you know. What did the employer actually say, and how can you verify, if at all, the information you were given?

For example, You, a disabled individual, apply for a job. The interview goes well and you feel great about your chances. Upon calling back, however, you are told that the company has decided to hire someone else because of their qualifications. You happen to know the person who subsequently takes the job, and are aware they are not as qualified as you, but cannot prove discrimination has taken place. Though it may have in fact been discrimination, you would be hard pressed to prove it. If, on the other hand, you are told the company has decided not to hire anyone and you find out three days later they have, you know there's a pretty good chance you have been discriminated against.

Just because you suspect discrimination does not mean you should fight it. Keep in mind that you probably would not want to work for an employer who did not want you there in the first place, and word does get around. On the other hand, if blatant discrimination has taken place, it may be to your benefit and to that of those who follow you, to fight the battle. It's all about using good judgment and asking yourself who it would help and how much it will really matter in the future.