People with mental disabilities (including intellectual disabilities, serious mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, such as autism) have an employment rate that is only half as high as people with other forms of disabilities, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
One of the major barriers to employment is a common stereotype that such individuals are less productive and more prone to violence than the general population, says David Hoff, a senior technical assistance specialist at the Institute for Community Inclusion, a Boston-based nonprofit that advocates on behalf of such individuals.
Companies often incorrectly assume that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to tolerate misconduct or a lack of productivity from workers with mental disabilities as a "reasonable accommodation," says Chris Kuczynski, the EEOC's assistant legal counsel for ADA policy.
"That's not true," he says. "Employers can have uniformly required rules of conduct, so long as they're applied consistently and are job-related."