The workplace discrimination experiences of older workers with disabilities: Results from the national EEOC ADA research project

Kelly E. Cichy, Jian Li, Brian T. McMahon, Phillip D. Rumrill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In this study, investigators examined the employment discrimination experiences of older workers (55 and over) with disabilities in comparison to younger adult workers with disabilities. OBJECTIVE: To examine age as a differential indicator of demographic characteristics of the Charging Parties, characteristics of Employers against whom allegations were filed, the discrimination issues alleged to occur, and the legal outcome of allegation investigations. METHODS: The study utilized data from the Integrated Mission System of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). RESULTS: Findings indicate that allegations filed by older Charging Parties were more likely to come from males and Caucasians and to involve more nonparalytic orthopedic, cardiovascular, vision, hearing, endocrinological, respiratory, and other age-related impairments. Allegations filed by older Charging Parties involved fewer mental health concerns, substance use disorders, blood and immune disorders, developmental disabilities, and chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Allegations filed by older workers were less likely to involve involuntary termination and more likely to involve work assignments, the terms and conditions of employment, layoff, and involuntary retirement. No significant differences in the proportions of allegations were observed related to the size of respondent employers or the outcomes of the EEOC's investigatory process. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that many of the workplace discrimination experiences of people with disabilities are common across age groups, and that partial support is evident for 'double jeopardy' in the treatment of older workers with disabilities. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015

Bibliographical note

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  • Older workers with disabilities
  • Workplace discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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