Persons with Disabilities More Likely to be Bullied in the Workplace

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A few stories over the last few weeks have brought the issue of bullying and disabilities back into the spotlight.

Last week, up and coming Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino retired from women's professional tennis, citing the need to focus on her personal life. Marino has been dealing with depression for many years and has seen her enjoyment and passion for tennis slowly diminish over the years. Stepping away from tennis is going to allow her to focus on her mental health and find new passions in life.

One of the interesting notes from her story was the role that cyber-bullies played in compounding her struggle against depression. While adamant that the role of online bullies wasn't the main factor in her becoming disenchanted with life in public eye, it certainly played a part. Fans, internet trolls and gamblers took to using social media to berate her endlessly, going as far to criticize her appearance and even suggest she would be better off dead.

While most of us don't work on a grass court in front of thousands of people, the bullying of persons with disabilities in the workplace has been a sad reality for a long time. New research released today highlights just how rampant workplace bullying of persons with disabilities is.

Researchers from Cardiff University examined responses to interview questions given by 3,979 people, 284 of them with physical or psychological disabilities, or long-term illness. Among the 284:

  • 10.5% said they had suffered physical violence at work, compared with 4.5% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 7.4 % said they had been injured at work as a result of aggression, compared with 3.5% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 12.3% said they had been humiliated or ridiculed at work, compared with 7.4% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 24.3% said they had been insulted at work, compared with 14.3% of people without disabilities or long-term illness; 
  • 34.5% said they had been shouted at, compared with 23.1% of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
This kind of abuse can seriously compound symptoms or issues related to a person's disability, and then serve to reinforce negative conceptions of that same person's productivity at work. This study should serve as yet another eye-opener as to the importance of creating psychologically healthy workplaces which remove misconceptions about disabilities. 


At 7 March 2013 at 09:12 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a severe problem here in Calgary. If you are disabled it just something else for them to pick on.
It is also affecting people that have no disabilities, I find it more in office positions, and is very serious problem in the large companies..


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