Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 482–497 | Cite as

Disability at Work: A Look Back and Forward

  • Lisa Schur
  • Kyongji Han
  • Andrea Kim
  • Mason Ameri
  • Peter Blanck
  • Douglas Kruse


Purpose This article presents new evidence on employment barriers and workplace disparities facing employees with disabilities, linking the disparities to employee attitudes. Methods Analyses use the 2006 General Social Survey to connect disability to workplace disparities and attitudes in a structural equation model. Results Compared to employees without disabilities, those with disabilities report: lower pay levels, job security, and flexibility; more negative treatment by management; and, lower job satisfaction but similar organizational commitment and turnover intention. The lower satisfaction is mediated by lower job security, less job flexibility, and more negative views of management and co-worker relations. Conclusion Prior research and the present findings show that people with disabilities experience employment disparities that limit their income, security, and overall quality of work life. Technology plays an increasingly important role in decreasing employment disparities. However, there also should be increased targeted efforts by government, employers, insurers, occupational rehabilitation providers, and disability groups to address workplace barriers faced by employees with disabilities, and by those with disabilities seeking to return to work.


Disability Job characteristics Job satisfaction Organizational commitment Turnover intention 



Valuable assistance and comments were received from Stan Gully, Patrick McKay, Marjorie Baldwin, and Meera Adya.


Funding for the disability module for the 2006 General Social Survey was provided by U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)—Grant No. H133B980042-99, the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. The program of research herein is also supported, in part, by grants to the Burton Blatt Institute from: (a) the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education (i) “Demand Side Employment Placement Models”—Grant No. H133A060033, (ii) “The Asset Accumulation and Economic Self-Sufficiency Project”—Grant No. H133A090014, (iii) “Southeast Disability & Business Technical Assistance Center”—Grant No. H133A060094, and (iv) “Center on Effective Delivery of Rehabilitation Technology by Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies”—Grant No. H133A090004, (b) the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) for the “Southeast Region TACE Center”—Grant No. H264A080021, and (c) the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor, “Disability Case Study Research Consortium”—Grant No. #E-9-4-6-0107.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

For this type of study formal consent is not required. This paper includes results from analysis of secondary data which were not collected by the authors. The data come from the long-running General Social Survey, which is conducted by the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago where all data collection is approved by an Institutional Review Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Schur
    • 1
  • Kyongji Han
    • 2
  • Andrea Kim
    • 3
  • Mason Ameri
    • 1
  • Peter Blanck
    • 4
  • Douglas Kruse
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Baylor UniversityWacoUSA
  3. 3.School of BusinessSungkyunkwan UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  4. 4.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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