Work Disability in Small Firms Chapter II dissertation

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Work Disability in Small Firms Chapter II

Work disabled ChII Lit Review

Review of Literature Demonstrates Information Gap and Identifies Methods

This chapter justifies the problem statement and research questions, and locates the results among existing research. Copious data and analysis describes pronounced unemployment for potential workers with disabilities and lower income where workers with disabilities are employed, compared to the general U.S. workforce, extensive policy intervention notwithstanding. Fewer studies focus on workers or potential workers with disabilities in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Georgia metropolitan statistical area, and even at the national level, very few juried reports describe productivity and job satisfaction for workers with disabilities in firms smaller than fifteen employees. Firms with fewer than fifteen employees are exempt from compliance with Title I of the ADA, but stimulating employment for workers with disabilities in these firms may improve economic self-sufficiency for this historically disadvantaged population. Conversely, if productivity and job satisfaction are higher in larger firms, vocational support resources may deliver higher return targeting those employers for potential workers with disability. This chapter reviews existing research trends, demonstrates shortfalls in current information, justifies research methods adapted from and contributing to existing precedent, and defines the parameters and analytical schema supporting inference toward the local workforce with disabilities in firms above and below 15 employees.

ADA And Subsequent Law Define The Parameters For Study

ADA was the modern turning point for all facets of disability policy in the U.S., conferring legal recognition for that historically marginalized condition. Therefore the passage of 42 U.S.C. As ADA is formally known sets a benchmark in time before which any research become questionable if not necessarily irrelevant, since the institutional environment was materially different before and after 1990. The major section of ADA relevant to this research is Title I, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of disability given identical qualifications up to the point that "reasonable accommodation" becomes an "undue hardship" for employers depending on a number of factors including firm's available resources and structure, among other conditions (Pub. L. 110-325, § 2, sec. 12111.10A). The other language in ADA most salient here is the definition of disability, particularly as "being regarded as having such an impairment" after certain other specific characteristics if action on such perception results in discrimination (Pub. L. 110-325, § 2, sec. 12102.1c). Employers must provide reasonable accommodation, from wheelchair ramps and accessible facilities to telecommuting and an evolving array of technological innovations, in order to avoid discriminating against potential hires with disabilities where they are the most qualified candidate. This entails applicants disclose disability, a decision many often decline if possible due to real or perceived stigma that results in markedly lower employment and earnings for workers and potential workers with disability.

Subsequent to and despite ADA, courts restricted definition of disability to the degree that the 110th Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act, Public Law 110-325, in order "to express Congress' expectation that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will revise that portion of its current regulations...to be consistent with this Act, including the amendments made by this Act" as of 1 January 2009 (Pub. L. 110-325, § 2, 122 Stat. 3553). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which administers and enforces the newly-amended ADA explained that the courts "had interpreted the definition of disability so narrowly that hardly anyone could meet it" (Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2011, n.p.). ADAAA outlines the specific court decisions that ultimately led to new EEOC rules that became effective May 2011 (Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2011). Of primary importance for this research, one of the definitions ADAAA (now enrolled within "ADA") left in place was a threshold of fifteen employees as the cutoff size below which ADA Title I does not apply. "ADA" hereinafter means the new, amended ADA post 1 Jan. 2009.

Most classifications of firms by size do not match the ADA threshold.

Hence the research questions in this study attempt to define worker satisfaction and productivity in firms under fifteen employees, which does not match typical definitions of 'small enterprise.' The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) definition of business size is complex rather than simple, depending on particular industries and annual receipts, not just above or below 500 or 100 employees as many authors claim (e.g. Tocher and Rutherford, 2009, p. 463 or Day and Greene, 2008, p. 644). The SBA considers a small business "one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field. Depending on the industry, size standard eligibility is based on the average number of employees for the preceding twelve months or on sales volume averaged over a three-year period" (U.S. Small Business Association, n.d.). Examples of SBA definitions as "small" include but are not limited to under 500 employees for manufacturing depending on what the firm produces, but wholesalers are considered medium beginning at 100 employees, again "depending on the particular product being provided" (U.S. Small Business Association, n.d.). Services, retailing, construction and agriculture size classifications depend on annual receipts rather than employee size at different levels for different products. What this demonstrates is that widespread generalizations defining small to medium enterprises (SMEs) as under 500 or 100 employees over-simplify official classes but also that all of these thresholds include firms that are and are not beholden to ADA in the same class. Very few experts, for example Day and Greene (2008), consider microenterprise at levels above or below 15 or even 50 employees. The result is an information gap comparing firms above and below the number of employees exempt from ADA. Part-time employment for workers with disabilities is growing for diverse reasons (Hotchkiss, 2004, p.25) regardless of firm size, but some of the largest studies do not capture these dynamics, while others do but not on local levels or sorted by disability where they sort for size (U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, n.p.). Likewise some federal studies define self-employment differently depending on whether the firm is incorporated or not (U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011, n.p.), and so any research claims about self-employment may or may not match all data sources. This study aims to probe the size threshold and full- and part-time employment for employees with and without work-limiting disability, for similarities and differences that may justify further investigation, including self-employment regardless of incorporation for respondent and analytical convenience.

Defining productivity is one of the most elusive problems in economics.

Similarities and differences this study aims to investigate involve perceptions of job satisfaction and productivity for workers with disabilities in small firms, compared against workers without disabilities, and for both categories in larger firms, to provide benchmarks for triangulating satisfaction and productivity for the target population of interest with disability in small firms. Of secondary importance are demographic characteristics that may shed insight on the various groups, but most of the survey instrument items attempt to define disability status, firm size or job satisfaction and productivity. This requires defining those inherently subjective terms, around which an increasing literature has arisen over the last century or so. Since productivity and satisfaction are intellectual constructs that exist nowhere in discrete units that can be weighed or sliced into standardizeable portions like quantities in the physical sciences, defining productivity and satisfaction reduces to the semantic problem of defining words in terms of other words, which then have to be defined, with other words, etc. etc. So many attempts at definition of productivity and satisfaction exist that exhaustive description exceeds resources of space for this discussion, so the task becomes to identify and adopt useful characteristics of definitions that have been field-tested by other experts, since no comprehensive definition of either construct has been recognized by all experts as 'the best.' The survey instrument fielded in this study sets out multiple items that have different scaling in order to measure self-reported perceptions of productivity and satisfaction derived from prior research, including measures like earnings and tenure with and without bargaining unit coverage, along precedents described in academic and government precedent. In fact experts agree more that productivity and job satisfaction usually occur together, rather than on exactly what these two 'reifications' or constructs actually mean.

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (DOL-WHD) publishes guidelines under which employers may pay less-productive workers, including those with disabilities but also age, less than legal minimum wages, so-called "commensurate wages," based on their actual level of output compared to an experienced worker performing "essentially the same type, quantity and quality of work" (U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, 2008, n.p.). The Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 CFR Part 525 section 14(c), allows employers to measure workers' output against an experienced worker for an essentially identical task, and then pay a percentage of the prevailing local wage corresponding to the share of what the benchmark, worker can produce in the same amount of time.

Definition of such standards depends on the various types of output…[continue]

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