The social construction of disability in organizations: Why employers resist reasonable accommodation

Sharon Harlan, Pamela M. Robert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Scopus citations


Reasonable accommodation, a provision of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, directs employers to alter the workplace so that qualified workers with disabilities have equal employment opportunity. Data on employees' requests for and employers' responses to reasonable accommodation, reported by people with disabilities, demonstrate that employers are reluctant to modify the social structure of work because of their perceived need to contain the costs of reform and maintain control of the work process. Employers often discourage employees with disabilities from making requests for accommodation, and they deny one of every three requests. The authors show how organizations devalue the work of people with disabilities, and identify an array of resistance strategies employers use to preserve hierarchy and authority in organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-435
Number of pages39
JournalWork and Occupations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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