Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Roessler, R.T., Neath, J., McMahon, B.T. & Rumrill, P.D. (2007). Workplace discrimination outcomes and their predictive factors for adults with multiple sclerosis. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 50 (3), 139-152.
Title:  Workplace discrimination outcomes and their predictive factors for adults with multiple sclerosis
Authors:  Roessler, R.T., Neath, J., McMahon, B.T. & Rumrill, P.D.
Year:  2007
Journal/Publication:  Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Publisher:  Hammill Institute on Disabilities and Sage
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Database mining

Structured abstract:

Background:  People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) experience high rates of unemployment. Many are in the middle of their careers when this disease is diagnosed. Symptoms often lead to problems at work which if left unattended can lead to job loss. Discrimination in the workplace can impact job retention or new job acquisition.
Purpose:  The aim of the research was to explore how individuals with MS were treated at work, in terms of perceived discrimination, and in terms of discrimination validated by a third party. The study sought answers to the following questions about discrimination and multiple sclerosis. What is the probability of a merit closure for all allegations of discrimination; do differences exist in the probabilities of merit closures for different allegation categories (i.e.discharge, reasonable accommodation, or harassment), what supply and demand side factors are predictive of merit closures and what supply and demand side factors are predictive of merit closures in specific allegation categories?
Setting:  The data was extracted from the EEOC data base. and was analyzed in multiple university settings.
Study sample:  The data set for the first question included 3,258 allegations of employment discrimination, made by people with MS. Other questions were explored using subset of that full data set. All allegations included were investigated and closed by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission between 1992 and 2003.
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Data collection and analysis:  Data was coded as needed to address each specific research question. Closures were coded as no cause and merit. No cause meant the EEOC investigation did not support the allegation of discrimination. Merit included outcomes when the EEOC determined that discrimination occurred. Frequency counts of merit versus non merit closures were used to calculate probabilities. Relationships between supply or demand side predictors and merit closures included a number of steps; including stepwise logistic regression analysis. This allowed the researchers to identify preliminary main effects models. When two or more effects were included in the main effects model, two way interactions were explored using score chi-square statistics. SAS 9.1 was used.
Findings:  Among the total group (N=3258) of allegations, the majority or 71% were non merit closures. In other words the EEOC investigation failed to support the allegation of discrimination. Among the 29% merit closures the majority 40% were settled with benefits to the charging party and the EEOC as a party to the settlement. The probability of a merit closure varied for different allegations. When considering the strength of the relationship between allegations and resolutions, an allegation of reinstatement was 3.00 times as likely as an allegation to discharge to result in a merit closure as compared to constructive discharge was only 0.46 times as likely to receive merit closure. Related to predictors of five types of allegations some of the highlights of what the researchers found are as follows. White women were 0.68 times as likely than men to receive a merit closure. Allegations by workers in physical industries were more likely to have merit closure. Related to allegations of hiring discrimination, workers in companies with 15 to 100 employees were 3.11 times more likely to have merit closures than workers in companies with more than 500 employees.
Conclusions:  The research documents the complexity of workplace discrimination. Nonmerit resolutions may be due to a worker's misperceptions or failure to adequately or properly document what happened in the workplace. Employer input influences many outcomes as 66% of merit outcomes are decided without the EEOC's determination about whether or not discrimination occurred. Additional research is needed. The findings have various implications for rehabilitation counseling that range from teaching a person with MS to recognize and document discrimination to providing responsive employer oriented assistance to accommodate the worker.

Disabilities served:  Multiple sclerosis
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Race: American Indian or Alaska Native
Race: Asian
Race: Black / African American
Race: White / Caucasian
Race: Native Hawaiian / other Pacific Islander
Rural and remote communities
Older workers (55+)
Outcomes:  Other