According to a survey conducted by researchers from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability and the Kessler Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit that serves individuals with disabilities, more organizations are now providing reasonable accommodations. This is largely due to companies being forced to confront a new normal: an increase of workers experiencing long-term health challenges relating to COVID-19.
From May 11 to June 25, researchers collected online responses from supervisors at organizations with at least 15 employees. The survey aimed to analyze how employment practices, such as recruiting, hiring, and keeping workers, had changed in the last five years for people with disabilities and overall.
Forty percent of those polled stated they have supervised someone who had long-term physical or cognitive issues as a result of COVID-19. Moreover, 78% of supervisors said their workplace established or changed the way they provide accommodations because of challenges created by the pandemic.
Workers at the Amazon warehouse in East Point, GA held a rally this week, demanding better pay and safer working conditions. Hundreds of people signed a petition earlier this month calling for an hourly starting wage of $18 and a $5 raise for current workers.
Employees also spoke out about the absence of accommodations for disabled workers at the rally. Karen M. Tucker, an employee said that prior to Amazon’s mandatory scheduling, she was one of the workers getting disability payments. Tucker lost her benefits because she was required to work 25 hours a week when she was only supposed to work 20. Tucker says Amazon is forcing disabled individuals to work, and risk losing their benefits.
I rely on Medicaid to pay for my PCAs. Private insurance doesn’t cover home and community based services. My PCA services would cost more than $50,000 a year without Medicaid. I couldn’t afford to pay for my care out of pocket. I’m forced to adhere to the money and resource restrictions of these programs. Without PCAs, I wouldn’t be able to take a shower, get dressed, or go grocery shopping.
Employers are supposed to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. They are not, however, required to assist with personal care needs. Without access to a PCA, it would be impossible for me to work. Working full-time without using the restroom would be virtually impossible. A non-disabled employee typically wouldn’t be expected to work without using the restroom when needed.
I applied for a host position at Texas Roadhouse in 2020. I was looking forward to my upcoming interview. In an email to the manager, I informed her that my PCA would be accompanying me to work. Subsequently, she canceled my interview.
Reasonable accommodations should not be refused. People with disabilities can make excellent employees with the right support. Employers, on the other hand, will not know this if they refuse to hire us.
Andrews, Amanda. “’No Justice, No Work’: Amazon Workers Demand Safety and Fair Pay.” Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Public Broadcasting Service , 20 Oct. 2022, https://www.gpb.org/news/2022/10/20/no-justice-no-work-amazon-workers-demand-safety-and-fair-pay.
“Personal Assistance in the Workplace.” Job Accommodation Network, Job Accommodation Network, https://askjan.org/topics/persassist.cfm.
Yang, Mary. “Remote Work Opened Some Doors to Workers with Disabilities. but Others Remain Shut.” NPR, NPR, 21 Oct. 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/10/21/1130371456/remote-work-opened-some-doors-to-workers-with-disabilities-but-others-remain-shu.