Rutgers Study: Employers Discrimination
In the first field study of its kind in the United States, researchers sent out more than 6,000 fictitious resumes and cover letters for advertised accounting jobs. The overall result: Employers expressed interest 26 percent less often in candidates who disclosed disabilities in cover letters.
“Field experimentation like this allows us to capture real-world experience,” said Mason Ameri, one of the researchers and a Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations doctoral candidate. Previous research on similar discrimination has centered on surveys of human resources personnel and company leaders and involved hypothetical scenarios, which researchers say may not always prompt honest responses.
The research team carefully crafted robust resumes and matched the experience to job openings on a major job-search website. No employer was applied to twice. There were two candidate profiles—one with six years’ experience, the other about a year out of college. Candidates with and without disabilities were equally qualified. One-third of the cover letters mentioned no disability, while one-third revealed a spinal cord injury and the other third Asperger’s syndrome, both conditions chosen because they would not affect the accounting abilities required.