Saturday, July 20, 2013

Employment Tests Discriminate Against LGBTs

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people do not by definition have a mental illness, but they have to contend with societal stigma and negative experiences that likely  contribute to an increased vulnerability to mental illness.

Prevalence of Mental Illness in GLBT People

Most research suggests that GLBT people are likely to be at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. One study found that GLB groups are about two-and-one-half times more likely than heterosexual men and women to have had a mental health disorder, such as those related to mood, anxiety, or substance use, in their lifetime.

In a national study comparing GLB and heterosexual groups, researchers found that gay and  bisexual men were more likely to report major depression and panic disorder in the previous twelve month period. Lesbian and  bisexual women were more than three times as likely to have experienced generalized anxiety disorder.

The reason for these disparities is most likely related to the societal stigma and resulting prejudice and discrimination that GLBT face on a regular basis, from society at large, but also from family members, peers, co-workers and classmates.

Double Stigma

As anyone living with mental illness can confirm, in our society there are still stigma and prejudice associated with mental illness. In fact, some people may refuse to seek professional help to avoid the stigma it might bring.

As if this were not challenging enough, consider what it must be like to face mental illness as part of an additionally  stigmatized group; in this case, as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) person. Unfortunately, this person must deal with a double stigma. GLBT people must confront stigma and prejudice based on their sexual orientation or gender identity while also dealing with the societal bias against mental illness. The effects of this double or dual stigma can be particularly harmful, especially for someone seeking employment.

Illegally Screening Out GLBT People from Employment Consideration

As noted in the ADA, FFM and DSM post, pre-employment personality tests utilize the five-factor  (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism), model of personality to create one or more profiles of a "model" employee. That profile usually specifies low levels of neuroticism and higher levels of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness.

Applicants with mental illnesses, whether GLBT persons or their heterosexual counterparts, tend to have a personality profile that conflicts with one or more elements of the "model" employee profile - higher neuroticism and/or lower openness, conscientiousness, extraversion and agreeableness.

Consequently, an FFM-based assessment illegally screen out GLBT people suffering from mental illness from employment consideration.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.