Is Disability Disabling in All Workplaces? Workplace Disparities and Corporate Culture






    Search for more papers by this author
    • *

       The authors’ affiliations are, respectively, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, 50 Labor Center Way, New Brunswick, NJ, USA; School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, 94 Rockafeller Road, Piscataway, NJ, USA; School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, 94 Rockafeller Road, Piscataway, NJ, USA; Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, 900 Crouse Avenue, Crouse-Hinds Hall, Suite 300, Syracuse, NY, USA. E-mails:,,, This paper was presented at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology annual conference, Dallas, Texas, May 2006, and in a seminar at the Rutgers University Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations. Adrienne Colella, Ed Yelin, Corinne Kirchner, Stan Gully, and seminar participants provided useful comments and advice. Refen Koh, Michelle Pinheiro, Rhokeun Park, and Patricia Berhau provided excellent assistance in survey scanning, entry, and verification. The data analyzed were collected as part of the NBER Shared Capitalism Research Project. We are grateful to the Russell Sage and Rockefeller Foundations which funded the project, and to the other project director, Richard Freeman, for letting the data be used for this paper. This research was in part funded by grants to the fourth author from (1) the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), for the “Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Workforce Investment and Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities,” Grant No. H133B980042-99, “IT Works,” Grant No. H133A011803, “Technology for Independence: A Community-Based Resource Center,” Grant No. H133A021801, “Demand Side Employment Placement Models,” Grant No. H133A060033, “Southeast Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center,” Grant No. H133A060094, and The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for “RRTC on Employment Policy for People with Disabilities,” and (2) the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability and Employment Policy, Contract #J-9-M-2-0022. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of any U.S. Department or any other entity.


Using nearly 30,000 employee surveys from fourteen companies, we find disability is linked to lower average pay, job security, training, and participation in decisions, and to more negative attitudes toward the job and company. Disability gaps in attitudes vary substantially, however, across companies and worksites, with no attitude gaps in worksites rated highly by all employees for fairness and responsiveness. The results indicate that corporate cultures that are responsive to the needs of all employees are especially beneficial for employees with disabilities.