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Do Job Hunters Who Stutter Face Bias?

Participants in small British study reported rejection, unsuitable work

FRIDAY, March 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People who stutter may face discrimination when looking for work, suggests a small new study from England.

Employers may be reluctant to hire these people because they're concerned about negative reactions from customers or other workers, according to researcher Clare Butler, of the business school at Newcastle University.

She interviewed 36 men, aged 21 to 65, who stutter and found that all reported routine discrimination when applying for jobs. Some were quickly rejected at interviews because of their stutter, while others could only get jobs for which they were overqualified.

Two-thirds of the men who found work believed they were hired because the job featured repetitive or lonely work that no one else would stick with. Many of these men described their work situation as "mindless" or "frustrating," according to the study published online March 10 in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

"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," Butler said in a journal news release.

Despite the frequent discrimination, none of the men said they challenged potential or current employers, the study author noted.

"This is in contrast to the movement for those with other impairments, such as dyslexia, where employees now expect, and employers are expected to make, adjustments to facilitate full access at work," Butler said.

She noted that the increasing number of service and retail jobs -- which require face-to-face contact with customers -- has made it even more difficult for people who stutter to find work.

About 1 percent of the population has a stutter, and men account for 80 percent of people who stutter, according to the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has more about stuttering.

SOURCE: Work, Employment and Society, news release, March 10, 2014
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