Wage Discrimination And People With Disabilities:

For many years, researchers have studied employment discrimination. Much work has been done to identify and investigate its impacts on race, gender, and ethnicity, but more work is needed in this area.

Faculty at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business examined how the experience of negotiating a salary varies depending on whether or not an individual acknowledged having a disability. They also investigated the impact that a recruiting manager’s bias may play in the hiring decision.

For their analysis, the team conducted three separate studies. In the first study, using imaginary job seekers with disabilities, they discovered that hiring managers offer a similar starting salary to every candidate who fits the job requirements.

Past data reveals that people with disabilities earn less than others. The researchers turned to the second study to investigate if this disparity persisted later in the job process when salary discussions started in earnest. The second study provides more details. Most job candidates with disabilities, believing they were negotiating with a hiring manager, requested a lower starting salary. Furthermore, when people experienced more prejudice, they negotiated a lower final salary.

In the third study, the researchers wanted to see if people with disabilities who tried to negotiate a better wage later in the job process were perceived negatively. Based on previous research, they anticipated that hiring managers are less likely to expect salary negotiations from people with disabilities because this demographic has historically been regarded as having reduced assertiveness and increased friendliness. Their findings revealed that individuals with disabilities face both social and economic consequences from hiring managers since they are less well-liked and are paid less.

In the United States, it is legal for people with disabilities to be paid subminimum wages. Subminimum wage is perfectly legal because, since 1938, U.S. labor law has carved out a rule for some people with disabilities, which states they can be paid less than the minimum wage. This law was intended to encourage more individuals to find employment during the Great Depression.

People with disabilities face numerous barriers when it comes to employment. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk to our managers about salaries if the question arises. Disabled people should earn a fair wage just like any other employee.


Burroughs, Lorrie. “Researchers Discover Unique Challenges for Individuals with Disabilities When Negotiating Salary.” The Georgia Institute of Technology News Center, The Georgia Institute of Technology, 7 Nov. 2022, https://news.gatech.edu/news/2022/11/07/researchers-discover-unique-challenges-individuals-disabilities-when-negotiating.

Selyukh, Alina. “Workers with Disabilities Can Earn JUST $3.34 an HOUR. Agency Says Law Needs Change.” NPR, NPR, 17 Sept. 2020, http://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/912840482/u-s-agency-urges-end-to-below-minimum-wage-for-workers-with-disabilities.

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