Workplace Discrimination and Autism Spectrum Disorders
299 Work 31 (2008) 299–308 IOS Press Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: The National EEOC Americans with Disabilities Act Research project Todd A.Van Wierena , Christine A.Reidb and Brian T.
McMahon b,? a b Disability Support Services, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, USA Department of Rehabilitation Counseling, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA Abstract.
Using the Integrated Mission System of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the employment discrimination experience of Americans with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is documented for Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The researchers examine demographic characteristics of the charging parties; the industry designation, location, and size of employers against whom complaints are ? led; the nature of discrimination (i. e. , type of complaint) alleged to occur; and the legal outcome or resolution of these complaints.
Researchers compare and contrast these key dimensions of workplace discrimination involving individuals with ASDs and persons with other physical, sensory, and neurological impairments. Researchers also attempt to discern whether or not the resolutions of the ASD charges can be predicted using the variables available for analysis. The comparative ? ndings of this study indicate that individuals with ASDs were more likely to make charges of discrimination against Retail industry employers. Persons with ASDs were also more likely to make charges of discrimination when they were younger, male, and/or of Native American/Alaskan Native ethnicity.
The predictive ? ndings of this study indicate that the odds of ASD charges resulting in meritorious resolution (i. e. , discrimination determined by the EEOC to have occurred) increase when the discrimination was encountered in Service industries and by larger employers. Implications for policy, advocacy and further research efforts are addressed. 1. Introduction: Autism Spectrum Disorders The term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is used to refer collectively to the group of disorders that comprise the ? ve speci? c, but related, conditions within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
Fourth Edition, Text Revision . These disorders fall under the formal diagnostic umbrella known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs): (1) Autistic Disorder, (2) Asperger Syndrome, (3) Rett’s Disorder, (4) Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and (5) PDD, ? Address for correspondence: Brian T. McMahon, Department of Rehabilitation Counseling, Virginia Commonwealth Universit, POB 980330, Richmond, VA 23298-0330, USA. Tel. : +1 804 827 0917; Fax: +1 804 828 1321; E-mail: [email protected] edu. Not Otherwise Speci? ed (NOS). Collectively, they are commonly described as autism.
The common, or core, characteristics shared by each of the ? ve PDDs generally include varying degrees of impairment in the triad of: (1) verbal and non-verbal communication, (2) social interaction, and (3) restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior or interests [2,9,33,37,38]. Aside from this common triad, additional functional limitations that can often be associated with ASDs include: hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, self-injurious behavior, motor dysfunctions, arousal/activation issues, cognitive de? iencies (including impairments in abstract thought), and physical/medical features [13, 15,41,51]. Frequently, individuals with ASDs can also have “. . . (1) problems understanding social cues and 1051-9815/08/$17. 00 ? 2008 – IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved 300 T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA facial expressions, (2) dif? culty expressing emotions in conventionally recognizable ways, (3) in? exibility and discomfort with change, and (4) dif? culty adapting to new tasks and routines” [35, p. 163]. It is important to realize that people with ASDs vary cross a wide continuum of intelligence, clinical characteristics and abilities [15,16,38,41]. On one extreme, some individuals with ASDs deal with severe impairments and require intensive life-long support. On the other end of the continuum reside individuals who are sometimes referred to as having “high-functioning autism,” with relatively slight limitations in daily activities. Predicting life outcomes for the population of individuals with ASDs as a whole (merely based on their carrying an ASD diagnosis) is dif? cult because of the very wide spectrum of cognitive, linguistic, social nd behavioral functioning from person to person . The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) simply uses the term autism to refer collectively to the ? ve PDDs included in Autism Spectrum Disorder. It de? nes autism as “neurological disorder[s] affecting the functioning of the brain; characterized by such symptoms as speech and language disorders and profound differences in the manner of relating to people, objects, and events. ” The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is presently unable to report exactly how many people in the U. S. re diagnosed with ASDs. At the moment, more is known about the number of children with ASDs than adults. However, the CDC estimates that the current prevalence rates for ASDs are between two and six per 1,000 individuals . It is known that the diagnosis of ASDs has increased steadily in recent years . Estimating the change in prevalence over the years is dif? cult to do, as the definitions of and techniques for diagnosing ASDs have broadened. However, the conclusion derived from available evidence is that the current prevalence of ASDs is roughly three to four times higher than it was approximately 30 years ago .
For instance, in 1994, ASDs were the 10th most common disability among individuals age 6–21 years served by public special education programs. By 2003, ASDs had risen to be the 6th most common disability . The reasons for the apparent increase in ASDs are not exactly clear. It may be that the actual occurrence of ASDs is on the rise. However, a more likely explanation for at least part of the increase is the manner in which professionals have been classifying ASDs in recent years . For example, in 1991 ASDs were added as a special education exceptionality within the US public school system .
ASDs are known to be more prevalent in males than females, but do not seem to be systematically or conclusively linked to ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, lifestyle, educational level or geographic region [16, 53]. ASDs do tend to occur statistically more often than expected for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria . Also, ASDs are thought to occur sometimes in conjunction with harmful substances ingested during pregnancy, such as thalidomide .2. Background . 1. Employment challenges It is well known that many individuals diagnosed with ASDs face considerable dif? culty in obtaining and maintaining employment [1,5,8,22,35]. A 1998 study estimated that only 18% of adults with ASDs in the U. S. were employed in some type of work . Furthermore, people with ASDs who do obtain work tend to struggle with maintaining employment. Perhaps because of the social, communicative and behavioral de? cits associated with ASDs, issues can frequently arise in the workplace with coworkers, supervisors, customers, or in the performance of duties . . 2. Need for the study Even though it is well understood that individuals with ASDs experience considerable dif? culties in general with obtaining and maintaining employment, very little evidence-based knowledge has been available for understanding the more speci? c issue of workplace discrimination and how it may contribute to the group’s overall employment challenges. To date, a contextualized understanding of the workplace discrimination towards workers and applicants with ASDs has been lacking. Such practical insights into workplace issues re important for the community of working adults with ASDs, their advocates, and providers of vocational rehabilitaiton services. The preponderance of today’s ASD research efforts focus on either childhood issues, or on potential medical cures or prevention of ASDs. There is a substantial need for more research to focus on practical adaptation issues for adults with ASDs [6, 36,44,52]. T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA 3. The National EEOC ADA research project Until quite recently, the majority of disability-related orkplace discrimination studies have tended to focus simply on the hiring preferences or attitudes of employers (or hypothetical employers) toward individuals with disabilities [17,19,46]. Such studies generally could not examine actual occurrences of discrimination, which are behavioral manifestations of negative attitudes. By and large, they could only offer a perceived notion of workplace discrimination, and not an actual description. Furthermore, studies that attempted to examine Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title I cases of private-sector disability-related work discrimination ere limited to assessing Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) summary statistics at the allegation-level. Because data were limited, such studies did not provide deeper, more contextual, analyses of the EEOC cases . Past studies did not have access to the cases’ ultimate resolutions, as well as other detailed information related to each case. Focusing on frequency of allegations alone may lead to skewed research conclusions. This is because only an approximate one? fth of all allegations made to the EEOC are ever found to involve suf? cient evidence that disability-related discrimination conclusively occurred .
Conversely, in approximately four-? fths of all allegations there is insuf? cient evidence for the EEOC to solidly conclude that discrimination took place. However, through an Interagency Personnel Agreement and a Con? dentiality Agreement involving the EEOC, Virginia Commonwealth University obtained the entire ADA segment of the EEOC’s Integrated Mission System (IMS) database. The IMS contains more than two million allegation records involving allegations of employment discrimination. The VCU subset includes all resolved allegations of discrimination made to the EEOC under Title I of the ADA, from July 7, 1992 (the ? rst date the ADA went into effect) to September 30, 2003. The National EEOC ADA Research Project was then developed to better understand the nature, scope and dynamics of employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the U. S. private-sector workplace. A number of studies have already been completed by members of the National EEOC ADA Research Project. Most of the ADA Title I studies completed to date have focused on speci? c disability groups, including: asthma , cancer , cerebral palsy , cumulative trauma disorders , deafness and hear- 301 ng impairment , diabetes , dis? gurement , HIV/AIDS [10,11], mental retardation , missing limbs , multiple sclerosis [42,43,49], speech impairment , spinal cord injury , traumatic brain injury , and visual impairment . 4. The IMS data set Because of the unique level of access now made available to the EEOC’s IMS database, it is possible to examine the following contextual information for each case within the study database: (1) demographic characteristics of the Charging Party (i. e. , individual with the disability); (2) the industry and size of the Responding Party (i. e. employer); (3) the U. S. region from which the allegation originated, (4) the speci? c type of alleged ADA Title I discriminatory allegation; and (5) the speci? c resolution of the case as determined by the EEOC, or by settlement or mediation between the Charging Party (CP) and Responding Party (RP). In this particular study, the research questions are answered by comparing and contrasting the employment discrimination experience of Americans with ASDs to that of Americans with other known physical, sensory, and neurological impairments. From these data, a “study dataset” was extracted to include only those ariables related to the research questions and to maximize consistency, parsimony, and con? dentiality (i. e. , to protect the identity of speci? c CPs and RPs). The extraction process was guided by the following considerations. The unit of study is an allegation; it is not an individual CP, nor an individual RP. A single CP may bring more than one allegation. Only unique allegations that do not involve recording errors or duplications are included in the study dataset. All identifying information regarding CPs and RPs was purged except variables important for this research.
Study data were strictly limited to allegations brought under Title I of the ADA. Allegations brought under other federal employment statutes were not considered. Further, state allegations were also excluded to maintain a consistent de? nition of both disability and discrimination. To maintain consistency in de? nitions and procedures among the study variables, only allegations received, investigated, and closed by the EEOC were included. This required the exclusion of allegations referred by the EEOC to litigation for disposition in civil court, federal or state.
Allegations of retaliation were excluded because complaints of this nature do not pertain directly to the existence or consequence of disability. 302 T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA Only allegations that were closed by the EEOC during the study period, de? ned as July 26, 1992 through September 30, 2003 were included in the study dataset. Finally, open allegations (i. e. , still under investigation) were excluded from the study. This exclusion exists to insure that all allegations in the study dataset are “closed,” and as such are known to be either with Merit (i. . , decided by the EEOC to have reasonable cause for discrimination) or Without Merit (i. e. , decided by the EEOC to have no reasonable cause for discrimination). The resulting study dataset includes 328,738 allegations of employment discrimination under ADA Title I that were received, investigated and closed by the EEOC during the study period. These were divided into groups on the basis of disability status including the following two: 1. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The primary group of interest for this particular study entails the allegations of discrimination made by individuals who reported having an ASD.
The ASD allegations number just 98 (i. e. , 0. 03% of the total number of cases in the study dataset). However, this is the entire population of EEOC-resolved ASD allegations for the study time period. 2. General Disability (GENDIS). The comparison group for this study is a compilation of all allegations made by individuals who reported impairments within the other physical, sensory, or neurological EEOC disability categories (i. e. , allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, back impairment, cancer, cardiovascular impairment, cerebral palsy, chemical sensitivity, cumulative trauma disorder, cystic ? brosis, diabetes, dis? urement, dwar? sm, epilepsy, gastrointestinal impairment, hearing impairment, HIV, kidney impairment, learning disability, mental retardation, missing digits or limbs, multiple sclerosis, nonparalytic orthopedic impairments, “other” blood disorder, “other” neurological impairment, “other” respiratory impairment, paralysis, speech impairment, tuberculosis, and vision impairment). For this particular study, GENDIS excludes ASD cases. The GENDIS allegations for this study number 174,512 (i. e. , 53. 09% of the total number of cases in the study dataset), and are the entire population of such cases resolved by the EEOC uring the study time period. GENDIS was also used as the primary comparison group for a majority of the other National EEOC ADA Research Project studies completed to date that examined various other EEOC disability categories [4,7,10, 23,25,27,30–32,42]. It is important to consider that the individuals who have actually made allegations of discrimination to the EEOC are likely a smaller number than the sum of individuals who have experienced discrimination. It is likely that many instances of disability-related discrimination go unreported to the EEOC. Individuals may not always realize that they have experienced discrimination.
Or, they may perhaps be aware of discrimination but do not understand their rights, know how to initiate a complaint, or they are fearful of retaliation. The small number of allegations made by individuals with ASDs (98) could lead one to conclude that workplace discrimination is not a signi? cant problem for these individuals. The under-representation of people with ASDs in the workforce has been previously reported, and it is well known that most discrimination involves currently employed persons. However, many individuals with ASDs may not understand their civil rights or how to exercise them.
The underreporting of discrimination would then make this particular study all the more important for individuals with ASDs and their advocates. The small number of ASD allegations also raises a technical concern. For most statistical tests, small Ns increase the risk of type II errors [12,40], or failure to detect actual differences when they exist. Because of the large number of comparisons that were conducted and in order to minimize this risk, the ? level was established at a more stringent level; p < 0. 01. 5. Project design and methods 5. 1. Variables The IMS data was transferred to the research team rom the EEOC via zip disk. Data needed to answer the research questions were extracted, coded, re? ned, and formatted in Microsoft Access using the aforementioned criteria. The result was a study-speci? c dataset in which the underlying unit of measurement is the frequency of allegations, a ratio level of measurement. The other variables for this study are detailed in Table 1. 5. 2. Research objectives The ? rst research objective for this study was descriptive in nature and focused on the most prevalent characteristics associated with the ADA Title I discrimination allegations made by individuals with ASD.
The second objective was comparative in nature and T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA 303 Table 1 Parameters of Variables CP AGE (ratio measurement) – Years CP GENDER (nominal measurement) – Male – Female CP RACE (nominal measurement) – White – African American – Hispanic/Mexican – Asian – Native American/Alaskan Native – Mixed Ethnicity – Other Ethnicity RP INDUSTRY (nominal measurement) – Agriculture – Construction – Finance, Insurance & Real Estate – Manufacturing – Mining – Public Administration – Retail – Services – Transportation & Utilities – Wholesale – Not Classi? ed
RP SIZE (interval measurement) – 15–100 employees – 101–200 employees – 201–500 employees – 501 + employees US REGION (nominal measurement) – Northeast – Midwest – South – West – U. S. Territory – Foreign (U. S. businesses operating abroad) ALLEGATIONS (nominal measurement) – Job Obtainment or Membership Issues: * Advertising, Apprenticeship, Exclusion/Segregated Union, Hiring, Prohibited Medical Inquiry, Quali? cations Standards, Referral, Testing, & Training – Job Conditions or Circumstances Issues: * Assignment, Bene? ts, Bene? ts (Insurance), Bene? ts (Pension), Demotion, Discipline, Harassment, Intimidation, Job Classi? ation, Maternity, Promotion, Reasonable Accommodation, Segregated Facilities, Seniority, Tenure, Terms/Conditions, Union Representation, & Wages – Job Maintenance or Preservation: * Constructive Discharge, Discharge, Early Retirement Incentive, Involuntary Retirement, Layoff, Recall, Reinstatement, Severance Pay, & Suspension – Other/Miscellaneous Issues: * Other, Posting Notices, References Unfavorable, & Waiver of ADEA Suit Rights RESOLUTIONS (nominal measurement) – Merit: * Settled with CP Bene? ts, Withdrawn with CP Bene? ts, Successful Conciliation, & Conciliation Failure – Non-Merit: No Cause Finding, Administrative Closure (RP Bankruptcy), Administrative Closure (CP Missing), Administrative Closure (CP NonResponsive), Administrative Closure (CP Uncooperative), Administrative Closure (Related Litigation), Administrative Closure (Failed Relief), Administrative Closure (Lacks Jurisdiction), & Administrative Closure (CP Withdraws) explored whether or not the characteristics associated with the ASD allegations differ signi? cantly from those of the characteristics associated with GENDIS. The third research objective of this study, predictive in nature, was to explore whether or not the ? al EEOC case resolutions for the ASD allegations could be predicted based upon a function of some of the contextual variables of interest associated with the ASD group. 5. 3. Analysis Data was analyzed to answer the stated research objectives in three primary ways, using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). First, descriptive statistics were used to detail the ASD and GENDIS allegations and various attributes thereof. Second, comparisons of the various characteristics of the ASD al- 304 T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA egations vs. the GENDIS allegations were conducted utilizing Fisher’s exact tests, odds ratios, and t-Tests for independent groups. Third, in an effort to discern whether or not the ? nal resolutions for the ASD allegations could be predicted based upon a function of some of the contextual variables of interest associated with the ASD group, multiple logistic regression analysis was used. 6. Findings 6. 1. Descriptive analysis Based upon the descriptive analysis portion of this study (i. e. , Objective One), it could be said that the pro? le for a typical ASD case entails: (a) a CP who s 36 years old, male and White; (b) a RP in the Retail industry that is either on the large end of the size spectrum (i. e. , 501+ employees) or the smaller end of the spectrum (i. e. , 15–100 employees); (c) origination of the allegation in the Southern region of the U. S. ; (d) an allegation that involves an issue of job conditions/circumstances or job maintenance/preservation; and (d) a case resolution that is ruled by the EEOC as non-meritorious. See Table 2 for a more detailed account of the descriptive analysis portion of this study. 6. 2. Comparative analysis Relative to GENDIS, the median age for the ASD roup is younger (36 years vs. 44 years), and is statistically signi? cant (t-Test for independent groups, t = ? 8. 385, df = 86. 134, p =< 0. 000). Allegations in the ASD group are over two times more likely to be made by males than were allegations in the GENDIS group (Fisher’s exact test, p =< 0. 000, O. R. = 2. 30). ASD allegations are over seven and half times more likely than GENDIS to involve CPs who are Native American/Alaskan Native (Fisher’s exact test, p = 0. 001, O. R. = 7. 82). And, relative to GENDIS, allegations from the ASD group are two and a half times more likely to be made against RPs in the Retail industries Fisher’s exact test, p =< 0. 000, O. R. , 2. 52). Statistical analyses revealed no signi? cant differences between the ASD group vs. GENDIS in regards to the regions where allegations originate from, the types of ADA Title I allegations ? led with the EEOC, or ultimate case resolutions decided upon by the EEOC. 6. 3. Predictive analysis Forward, stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis was utilized to establish the best set of variables predictive of merit vs. non-merit ASD case resolutions. The selection of the predictor variables in the ? nal model progressed via steps while the different ndependent predictor variables were inserted into or excluded from the model, in an attempt to realize the largest increase in R 2 . This course of action revealed that RP size, CP race (Native American/Alaskan Native), and RP industry (Service) contributed the most to the explanatory power of the model (? 2 = 33. 176, p =< 0. 000, df = 3), explaining approximately 35. 4% to 48. 9% of the variance in the merit vs. non-merit resolution status of ASD cases (i. e. , Cox & Snell R 2 = 0. 354, Nagelkerke R 2 = 0. 489). However, the ? nal number of cases (N ) included in this model decreased from 98 to 76, because of missing data in a couple of he model’s independent variables. Therefore, desiring to include as many of the ASD group’s relatively small number of cases as possible in the ? nal model, another logistic regression analysis was completed. This new analysis made use of simultaneous entry of only the two statistically signi? cant predictor variables that had been found in the forward stepwise analysis (i. e. , RP size and CP industry [Service]). Thus, the new model (N = 86, ? 2 = 18. 553, p =< 0. 000, df = 2) consists of only RP size and RP industry (Service), which serve as the independent predictor variables and explain approximately 19. % to 27. 5% of the variance in the merit vs. non-merit resolution status of the ASD cases (i. e. , Cox & Snell R 2 = 0. 194, Nagelkerke R 2 = 0. 275). This same process for determining the best predictor variables for a multiple logistic regression model, while attempting to avoid as many missing data cases as possible, was recently utilized within the ? eld of Rehabilitation research . The results of the ? nal model are detailed in Table 3. It could be said that the odds of an ASD allegation resulting in a meritorious case resolution increase when: (1) the allegation is made against a Service industry
RP, and (2) as the size of the RP increases (i. e. , number of employees). It was found that ASD allegations that were made against RPs in the Service industry are approximately seven times more likely than all other industries (considered together) to experience merit resolutions (i. e. , Exp[? ]= 7. 013). In conjunction with this, it was also found that for each one-unit increase in a RP’s size (e. g. , moving from the 15–100 employee category, to the 101-200 employee category, to the 201– T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA 305 Table 2
Descriptive Analysis of ASD and GENDIS allegations ASD (F) CP AGE: Age (mean years of age) (72) (26) GENDIS (F) 36 years CP GENDER: – Male – Female % % 44 years 73. 5% 26. 5% (95,282) (79,048) 54. 7% 45. 3% CP RACE: – White (60) 61. 9% (108,803) 63. 1% – African American (14) 14. 4% (35,325) 20. 5% – Hispanic/Mexican (11) 11. 3% (12,535) 7. 3% – Other? (12) 12. 4% (15,718) 9. 1% ? Comprised of EEOC categories: Asian, Native American/Alaskan Native, Mixed Ethnicity & Other Ethnicity RP INDUSTRY: – Agriculture?? – Construction?? – Fin. , Ins. , Real Est.?? – Manufacturing (16) 16. 8% – Mining?? Public Admin. (8) 8. 2% – Retail (22) 23. 2% – Services (18) 18. 9% – Trans. & Util. (10) 10. 5% – Wholesale?? – Not Classi? ed (18) 18. 9% ?? Industries with less than 5 ASD charges are not reported (32,539) 19. 2% (16,051) (18,129) (49,525) (15,741) 9. 5% 10. 7% 29. 2% 9. 3% (21,472) 12. 7% RP SIZE: – 15–100 employees – 101–200 employees – 201–500 employees – 501 + employees U. S. REGION: – Northeast – Midwest – South – West – U. S. Territory – Foreign (33) (13) (9) (34) 37. 1% 14. 6% 10. 1% 38. 2% (56,161) (20,708) (18,507) (72,297) 33. 5% 12. 4% 11. 0% 43. 1% (7) (24) (47) (20) (0) (0) 7. % 24. 5% 48. 0% 20. 4% 0% 0% (18,667) (52,014) (70,404) (32,782) (641) (4) 10. 7% 29. 8% 40. 3% 18. 8% 0. 4% 0% ALLEGATIONS: – Job Obtainment or Membership – Job Conditions or Circumstances – Job Maintenance or Preservation – Other/Miscellaneous (6) (47) (41) (4) 6. 1% 48. 0% 41. 8% 4. 1% (12,047) (90,162) (68,569) (3,734) 6. 9% 51. 7% 39. 3% 2. 1% RESOLUTIONS: – Merit – Non-Merit (29) (69) 29. 6% 70. 4% (38,385) (136,127) 22% 78. 0% 500 employee category, to the 501+ employee category, etc. ) the odds of an ASD allegation being resolved with merit increase by over one and a half times (Exp[? = 1. 836). 7. Discussion 7. 1. Education efforts by the EEOC The EEOC distributes training materials to employees and individuals with disabilities concerning ADA Title I issues. Efforts should be focused on educating Retail and Service industry and larger employers in particular concerning the characteristics of and the unique work-related issues of individuals with ASDs. Furthermore, in attempting to educate individuals with disabilities concerning their rights and options to ? le discrimination allegations, the EEOC should consider including focus on individuals with ASDs in a special ense, given that many of these individuals may not be aware of how to recognize discrimination and/or how to take advantage of the EEOC’s resolution services 306 T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA Table 3 Final model for logistic regression analysis of ASD Merit vs. Non-Merit resolutions Predictor ? SE df Wald – RP Industry 1. 948 0. 627 9. 665 (Service vs. all others) – Responding Party Size 0. 608 0. 218 7. 802 (i. e. , # of employees) Constant ?2. 942 0. 731 16. 195 Model Summary: N = 86 df = 2 ?2 = 18. 553 p =< 0. 000 R2 = 0. 94 (Cox & Snell), 0. 275 (Nagelkerke) ? Signi? cant p Exp(? ) 1 0. 002? 7. 013 95% C. I. for Exp(? ) 1. 397–35. 219 1 0. 005? 1. 836 1. 048–3. 216 1 0. 000 0. 053 at . 01 level (as possibly evidenced in the extremely low number of ASD allegations received by the EEOC to date). 7. 2. Training of ASD support personnel It would be important for personnel who support the vocational efforts of individuals with ASDs (e. g. , rehabilitation counselors, supported employment specialists, etc. ) to understand the unique trends of ASD allegations of ADA Title I discrimination. Compared o many other disability groups, ASD allegations are more likely to be made by younger individuals and by males. Employers that perhaps require a special degree of attention when considering ASD vocational issues would include Retail and Service industry employers and larger employers. Rehabilitation professionals also need to know that relatively few ADA Title I allegations are made to the EEOC by people with ASDs, compared to other disability groups, which may possibly mean that individuals with ASDs are especially at risk for not advocating for themselves against employment discrimination.
Supportive personnel need to understand that a systems/ecological approach is especially needed in assisting individuals with ASDs to obtain and maintain integrated employment in the competitive, private-sector workplace. The supported employment and positive behavioral support models may be particularly valuable here in assisting individuals with ASDs and their work environments to successfully adapt to each other. After all, it is known that individuals with ASDs can achieve employment success and can be highly regarded by their employers if they receive the appropriate vocational supports [18,22,24].
Such vocational supports should include sophisticated and independentlytailored assessment (of both the individual and potential work environments), placement, training, and ongoing support. Based upon the extremely low number of ASD allegations made to the EEOC, it might also appear that a major focus in working with individuals with ASDs would be to assist in increasing their self-advocacy skills. Employers engaged with individuals with ASDs (especially those in the Retail and Service industries and larger employers) also require sophisticated and independently-tailored assistance.
Efforts directed towards employers should focus, in particular, on attempting to understand and articulate the workplace’s normative behavioral and communicative standards; educating the employer to understand how individuals with ASDs may have a dif? cult time meeting these normative standards; helping employers to develop positive frames of reference concerning their employees with ASDs, and assisting employers to develop effective, appropriate, and non-discriminatory responses towards their employees with ASDs. 7. 3. Transition planning to adult working age Individuals with ASDs who ? le allegations of ADA
Title I discrimination are more likely to be younger, compared to members of many other disability groups. As discussed previously, this may have something to do with ASDs being lifelong developmental disabilities. Thus, individuals with ASDs enter (and/or attempt to enter) into the adult workforce from day-one with their disability. This is different from some other disabilities that may not be acquired by an individual until later in life or after they have been engaged in the workplace for a length of time. Therefore, long-term transition planning for children and/or young adults with ASDs hould include the consideration of avenues by which such individuals can obtain introductory work experience (such as part-time jobs, internship/practicum-style experiences, etc. ) prior to the point that they will be expected to move permanently into the adult workforce. T. A. Van Wieren / Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: EEOC & ADA Because individuals with ASDs struggle with social perception/interaction and behavior in particular, they may bene? t especially from guided practice and experiences in learning how to appropriately and effectively perceive and respond within work environments.    . Conclusion  This study revealed unique issues for ASD allegations of ADA Title I discrimination. As a result of this new understanding, some implications and suggestions were offered, aimed at assisting both individuals with ASDs and their work environments to adapt to each other, so as to prevent issues of discrimination. Perhaps one of the most important and obvious issues noted in this study is the extremely low number of ASD allegations received to date by the EEOC. This might signify that individuals with ASDs are not recognizing discrimination and/or are not aware of their rights and options concerning the EEOC.
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