Date of Award

8-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Advisor

Raymark, Patrick

Committee Member

Pury , Cynthia

Committee Member

Taylor , Mary Anne

Committee Member

Tafero , Tracey

Abstract

Even since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, employment is still a challenge for the millions of Americans living with disabilities. The unemployment rate for those with disabilities (13.7%) is much higher than that for adults without disabilities (8.9%; Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2009). In addition to the challenge of obtaining a job, individuals with disabilities can face discrimination and poor treatment once on the job. The current study is the first to empirically examine those factors that may influence perceptions of discrimination in the workplace for individuals with disabilities and predicts how organizational outcomes may be impacted. Specifically, a model is presented and tested that depicts how different characteristics associated with disabilities, individual experiences of those with disabilities, and organizational factors relating to disabilities impact the organizational commitment, job satisfaction, turnover intentions and intentions to file a discrimination claim for those individuals with a disability. The model also specifies that these effects are mediated by the individuals' perceptions of workplace discrimination.
One hundred and forty employed adults with disabilities completed an online survey measuring the variables introduced above. These individuals were contacted primarily through their membership in organizations for persons with disabilities. The results of a structural equation model indicate that several characteristics of disabilities (e.g., onset controllability, visibility and predictability of a disability) are related to perceptions of workplace discrimination. Additionally, self perceptions regarding the familiarity of one's disability was found to directly impact job satisfaction, and self-perceptions of the predictability of one's disability had a significant direct relationship with ratings of organizational commitment. Only one individual experience variable (knowledge of the ADA) was a significant predictor of perceptions of workplace discrimination.
Two of the organizational factors (supervisor knowledge of the ADA and disability-friendly climate perceptions) hypothesized to impact discrimination perceptions, were significant. Also, perceptions of climate were negatively related to intentions to file a discrimination claim. These findings provide important information for organizations wanting to reduce perceptions of discrimination and impact other critical outcomes (e.g., intentions to file a discrimination claim).
A second model was presented and analyzed in this paper focusing on one's likelihood to request an accommodation. Several variables were found to significantly predict one's likelihood to request an accommodation (disclosing one's disability, the usefulness of the accommodation and the perceptions of the organization's compliance with the request). This provides novel information to researchers in this field as this is the first empirical study to examine accommodation request likelihood.

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