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Employers Tend to Discriminate against Workers with a Stutter

Update Date: Mar 10, 2014 02:56 PM EDT

People who stutter have difficulty saying a complete sentence due to random breaks in between words that are sometimes filled with repetitive sounds. Many studies have looked into the effects of having a stutter on young children's development. In a new study, researchers examined the impact of having a stutter for adults in the workforce. The team headed by Dr. Clare Butler from Newcastle University Business School found that employers tend to discriminate against people who stutter.

For this study, the researchers recruited 36 men between the ages of 21 and 65. The researchers interviewed the participants, who were from England and Wales. They found that all of the participants reported being discriminated against during an interview or at their current positions. In some of the cases, a few of them stated that they were rejected from the position during the interview due to their stutter. Many of them stated that they could only get jobs that they were over-qualified for.

"Many participants were told not only of their mismatch for the specifics of the job or the likelihood of a detrimental impact on customers, but also of the possible negative impact on team dynamics if they were appointed," said Dr. Butler according to the press release.

The research team stated that two-thirds of the men ended up holding a job that would be considered "lonely or repetitive." One particular man in his 20s stated that he was told to find another job because his stutter would make it difficult for him to communicate with fellow co-workers and with clients.

"He said I could do the job mostly. He said he'd have to warn the customers about me and that most would probably understand - but he said I should look for something more suitable. When I asked 'like what?' he said outside work like gardening or something where I was on my own. I mean, can you imagine how I felt?" the man recalled.

The researchers also reported that in many of the cases, the employees did not speak up about the discrimination. From this study, none of the male participants stated that they had spoken up to their current or prospective bosses. The researchers did find that in some of the cases, employers were reasonable and supportive. The study suggests that employees might need to improve how they work with current and potential employees who stutter.

The study was published in the journal, Work, Employment and Society.

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