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Indiana Law Journal

Article Title

Without Accommodation

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2022

Publication Citation

97 Indiana Law Journal 1147 (2022)

Abstract

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), workers with disabilities have the legal right to reasonable workplace accommodations provided by employers. Because this legal right is unique to disabled workers, these workers could, in theory, enjoy greater access to the types of accommodations that are desirable to all workers—including the ability to work from home, to work flexible hours, and to take leave. This Article compares access to these accommodations, which have become increasingly desirable during the COVID-19 pandemic, between disabled workers and nondisabled workers. Using 2017–2018 data from the American Time Use Survey’s Leave and Job Flexibilities Module, I find that disabled workers report far less access to these pandemic-relevant accommodations than do nondisabled workers. I further present evidence that disabled workers’ lower rates of access to pandemic-relevant accommodations are due, in part, to occupational segregation. Because disabled workers are more likely to work in jobs that are not amenable to working from home, working flexible hours, and taking temporary leave, the results raise concerns about many disabled workers’ ability to maintain their employment during the pandemic. The results further highlight the inherent weaknesses of the ADA and the need for additional supporting legislation—including short-term insurance and educational funding programs—for disabled workers.

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