Physically disabled employees are twice as likely to be the target of insults and ridicule at workplaces, study shows.
Researchers from Cardiff and Plymouth universities found that people with physical or psychological disabilities or long-term illness reported higher rates of 21 types of ill-treatment than other workers did, often from their managers and colleagues.
These included being given impossible deadlines and being ignored, gossiped about or teased.
The research examined responses to interview questions given by 3,979 people, 284 of them with a disability or long-term illness.
Among the 284, 10.5 percent said that they had suffered physical violence at work, compared with 4.5 percent of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
7.4 percent said that they had been injured at work as a result of aggression, compared with 3.5 percent of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
12.3 percent said that they had been humiliated or ridiculed at work, compared with 7.4 percent of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
24.3 percent said that they had been insulted at work, compared with 14.3 percent of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
34.5 percent said that they had been shouted at, compared with 23.1 percent of people without disabilities or long-term illness.
The research, which uses data from the British Workplace Behaviour Survey, found that those with disabilities or long-term illness said managers were responsible for 45 percent of the more serious ill-treatment they had suffered and that customers or clients were responsible for 28 percent, and colleagues for 18 percent.
The lead researcher, Professor Ralph Fevre, of Cardiff School of Social Sciences, said: "Up to now, researchers have generally assumed that ill-treatment in the workplace was causing disabilities and health problems. Our work suggests ill-treatment happens to employees who already have disabilities or health problems."
In their paper 'The Ill-treatment of Disabled Employees in British Workplaces', Professor Fevre, Dr Amanda Robinson, and Trevor Jones of Cardiff University, and Professor Duncan Lewis, of Plymouth University, noted that people with a disability or long-term illness reported higher levels in all the categories of ill-treatment they looked at.
Among workers with a disability, those with a psychological or learning disability usually fared worse than those with physical disabilities or long-term physical health problems.
Among those with a psychological or learning disability, 21.2 percent said they were victims of physical violence, 44.2 percent said they had been insulted and 56.9 percent said they had been shouted at.
The study is published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.