On-the-Job Treatment of Employees With Disabilities: A Grounded Theory Investigation

Lynn C. Koch, Rachel Glade, Christine M. Manno, Aten Zaandam, Lauren S. Simon, Phillip D. Rumrill, Christopher C. Rosen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Workplace mistreatment is common for workers with and without disabilities. Overt forms of mistreatment in the workplace (e.g., abuse, bullying, harassment) have been well studied; however, less is known about more subtle forms of workplace mistreatment for employees with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to examine how workers with disabilities are treated on the job, the types of mistreatment present in the workplace, the consequences involved (if any), the courses of action taken (if any), and workers’ satisfaction with the outcomes of actions taken. We used a grounded theory approach to learn from 26 employees with disabilities about their experiences with workplace treatment. Primary themes that emerged from the data were (a) the emotional toll of being mistreated on the job; (b) attempting to “grin and bear it,” as one participant described it, to avoid mistreatment; (c) a desire to feel a sense of belongingness at the workplace; and (d) the intersection of disability characteristics, individual characteristics, and work environment characteristics that influences how people with disabilities are treated on the job. Implications are presented for understanding the role that rehabilitation counselors play in helping workers and employers to respond to mistreatment of employees with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-309
Number of pages16
JournalRehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2021.


  • disability
  • employment
  • workplace mistreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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