One-handed diapering? A breeze compared to dealing with disability-based discrimination
Christina DeHaro, pictured here in blue with her family
When I was four years old, I was in a car crash that left my right arm immobile from the shoulder down. I’ve faced down a lot of challenges over the years as a mom with three kids and a visible disability. Sure, it was tricky to figure out how to change diapers with one hand or lift my kids out of their car seats. Yes, sometimes I had to have tough conversations with my kids about self-esteem and bullying after they heard people making fun of my disability.
But my biggest challenges have been in getting and keeping jobs that allow me to support my family. The assumptions potential employers make about me keeps me relegated to low-paying jobs. I know how an interview is going to go when I walk into the room and the employer looks at my arm before noticing anything else about me.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against me, or refuse to hire me, based on my disability. But it’s pretty tough to prove that that’s why I don’t get hired after an in-person interview. I know I’m not the only one facing this. In fact, in 2015, the unemployment rate (a measure of people who are able to work and actively looking for jobs) was more than double for people with disabilities (10.7%) than for able-bodied people (5.1%). 1
Even when I am able to find and keep work, I’m hit with a double wage gap. Women with disabilities working full time, year round, on average are paid just 67% of what men without disabilities are paid. 2 That’s why I’m with 9to5 — because it’s going to take all of us to educate young people, change discriminatory workplace cultures, and pass and enforce the legal protections needed by working moms like me.
This blog post is part of 9to5’s collection Faces of the Wage Gap, illuminating the many factors which contribute to income inequality and the necessary solutions needed to reach true economic justice for all women. Please share via social media!
1. “Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary.” United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm
2. “How the Wage Gap Hurts Women and Families.” National Women’s Law Center. http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/wage_gap_hurts_women_and_families.pdf