The issue of workplace discrimination resulting from disability has not received nearly as much attention in the psychological literature as other forms of discrimination. There are many reasons for this lack of attention ranging from the recency of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) compared to other civil rights legislation, to problems with defining what actually constitutes a disability in both the legal and behavioral sense. However, it is particularly imperative that we work to better understand disability discrimination in the workplace given what little change there has been in the employment status of persons with disabilities since the advent of the ADA (Wells, 2001). Behavioral research on disability discrimination has grown since the passage of the ADA, has become more systematic, and is more relevant to employment issues. Yet, our review underscores the point that there is still a long way to go until we can gain a workable understanding of the psychological aspects of disability discrimination in the workplace.
The vast majority of studies examined selection decision using either paper credentials, videotaped interviews, or both. Given the inconclusive results of this research, we are not going to suggest a moratorium on such research, but rather that researchers broaden their choice of reactions. One such reaction is inclusion into workgroups.
There exists in the rehabilitation literature several studies that examine the factors affecting and the extent to which people with disabilities are included in their workgroups. However, most of this research is qualitative, focuses on people with mental retardation, and focuses on the skills and behaviors of persons with disabilities (not the work environment). Recently, a few studies in the management literature have studied inclusion into workgroups (Colella & Varma, 1999; Stone & Michaels, 1993, 1994), but there is still quite a bit to be done in this arena.