Investigating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Provision of Workplace Accommodations in the United States

TitleInvestigating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Provision of Workplace Accommodations in the United States
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBrucker, DL, Henly, M, Houtenville, A
InstitutionUniversity of Michigan
CityAnn Arbor, Michigan
KeywordsRacial and ethnic disparities, United States, workplace accommodations

This study used data from a nationally representative survey that follows people 50 and older
over time (the Health and Retirement Study) to test whether the receipt of workplace
accommodations by persons with work limitations varies by race/ethnicity. Workplace
accommodations can include changes to time (allowing more breaks, allowing different arrival or
departure times, or shortening the workday), provision of equipment/assistance (getting
someone to help, getting special equipment, arranging special transportation), and changes to
work (changing the job, helping to learn new job skills). We found that 85% of persons with work
limitations identified a need for workplace accommodations, but only 32% actually received
accommodations. While our preliminary analyses suggested some differences by race/ethnicity
in the likelihood of receiving accommodations, when we also considered other factors (age,
gender, education, organizational size, and physical nature of an occupation), these differences
by race did not hold. Organizational size was a critical factor, however, as persons working for
organizations that employed 100 or more people were significantly more likely to receive
accommodations. This finding suggests that smaller employers may benefit from training or
other supports to increase the availability of workplace accommodations. Workers with
disabilities might also benefit from increased education offered by vocational rehabilitation
agencies, workforce development programs, and other similar organizations on how to make
requests for and implement reasonable accommodations.

Citation Key13141