Discrimination based on disability is supposed to be illegal according to The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Since I started this blog, I’ve written extensively about my struggles to become gainfully employed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.1% of people with disabilities worked in the United States in 2021. This is despite the fact that those with disabilities are the world’s largest minority.
I began looking for work in December 2019. Since then, I’ve filled out hundreds of job applications. I still fill out several applications every week, hoping for an opportunity. I have been turned down by fast-food restaurants, supermarkets, movie theaters and even as a host at Applebee’s. Employers often rescinded interviews after I told them I have Cerebral Palsy. This is supposed to be illegal, but it happens all of the time. The first few times this happened to me, I wanted to explain to the employer that this was illegal. It still happens to me almost three years later. Earlier in the month, a local Homewood Suites hotel rescinded my interview after disclosing my disability to the manager.
Many people hide their disabilities from employers to get a fair chance at work. My mom even told me not to tell a potential employer that I have CP. Cerebral Palsy is an apparent physical disability. As soon as I show up in my power wheelchair or walker, an employer will know that I am disabled. If they don’t accept the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy, I won’t be working for them. I deserve to be treated like any other employee. If they don’t accept my disability, I wouldn’t want to work for their company to begin with. Cerebral Palsy will never go away, and I’ll have it for my entire career. The concept of equal opportunity in the workplace seems to be a myth.
I am currently on SSI and have been for the past six years. It allows me to pay my bills while looking for work. I don’t want to be completely dependent on SSI for the rest of my life. This may become a grim reality if I am unable to find work.
I’ve wanted to work ever since I was a teenager and saw many of my peers working. I’m no different than any other 22-year-old except for the fact that I have a physical disability. I’m saddened by workplace discrimination against disabled people. I am capable of working, but employees need to be willing to hire disabled people to make my dream of employment a reality.
Caprino, Kathy. “The World’s Largest Minority Might Surprise You, And How We Can Better Serve Them.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Apr. 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2016/04/14/the-worlds-largest-minority-might-surprise-you-and-how-we-can-better-serve-them/?sh=737aa3ca496f.
“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2022, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm.