Returning to Work After Disability
Several years ago, I had a nice corporate job. The pay was good. Commute wasn’t too bad and I had excellent benefits. While there, I was slowly losing my vision. Initially I was using low vision aids and devices like hand-held magnifiers, dark lined notebook paper, magnification software and a CC-TV device. However, my vision continue to worsen and I took a year off to attend classes at a vision rehabilitation center.
Considered Leaving Job
But when I returned the company climate had changed. Granted I had changed too. A disability will do that to you. Nevertheless, the office was different. Yet, my supervisor was the same. My co-workers were the same. I finally put a finger on it. Although I was happy to return to the workplace I was dissatisfied with my actual work. I mentioned this to my vision rehabilitation counselor. I told her I was thinking about leaving because the work was no longer exciting or challenging. Her reaction was quick and not encouraging. She shared with me all the work and effort others put into me returning to work. I was a great example of a successful disabled person reentering the workforce. How could I just up and leave?
I was surprised by her reaction. It communicated to me a certain mindset. I told her I was only thinking about it and wouldn’t leave unless I had another job to go to. But this made me think. The unemployment rate for the disabled in America is pretty awful. Only about 21% of us are working. So, when we get a job we stay. We have been marketed as loyal and committed employees.
I soon realized I was a part of this working disabled community. How dare I leave this good job? People like me can’t be picky. I am blind and positions are scarce and options are limited. Whether I like the job or not I needed to stay. I needed to grin and bare it.
Hard to Find a Job
As we honor National Disability Employment Awareness Month I am going to flip the script. This is not a post about how important it is to hire us. Or how much value we bring to the job. Or how much we want to work. No, this is about quiet quitting. This term is trending right now but It is not new. People leave jobs all the time when they are not happy. Or they stay and do the bare minimum. But can the disabled do the same? Can we walk off the job and just leave when we are not being fulfilled? Or when we don’t get a raise or promotion? Well, the answer is no and here’s why.
As I said before a lot of work and effort go into employing a disabled person. We have to figure out transportation. We have to request and sometimes advocate for reasonable accommodations. We have extra barriers to overcome. Some physical and others attitudinal. So, we don’t quiet quit because the stakes are too high.
Employers want to feel comfortable hiring a disabled person. Unfortunately, a lot of employers do not and we don’t get the job whether we are qualified or not. This is not new info for people who are disabled. So, after much job searching and preparation when the job finally comes we grab it. We make real efforts to do our very best and try not to complain too much. We don’t quietly quit.
Employers Have Low Expectations
There is this attitude that people with disabilities should be ever so grateful for these opportunities. But I push back on that mentality. If I come to a workplace with the required skills and talents why should I be grateful? You are not hiring me because you feel sorry but because I can do the job and do it excellently.
However, over my 20+ years in the workforce I have learned this doesn’t always apply to the disabled community. I have come to realize employers will have low expectations regardless of my qualifications. They are only seeing a blind person in front of them and not much else.
So, when we get hired sometimes we are underemployed. Meaning we are working in jobs where are true talents and skills are not fully utilized. We are not challenged and called higher in our positions like able bodied people. Why is this? It is because people have a low expectation of our capabilities; thinking we can only do the bare minimum . This is not true. With the right motivation and supports we can go above and beyond what is expected.
Quiet Quitting Verses Quiet Firing
I was Working in a job where my employer saw my talents and skills. I was given challenging work and excelled in it. But management changed and I was relegated to a lower position. It impacted my morale and self-esteem. I continued to work the job because my prospects were limited. I didn’t quietly quit.
I realized years later this experience was quiet firing. LinkedIn News says quiet firing is going years without a raise or promotion, shifting responsibilities toward tasks that require less experience or a deliberate withdrawal of development and leadership opportunities.” Meaning, employees who are quietly fired might feel pushed out or set up to fail. Their employer is making their job feel like a thankless, unpleasant dead end.
Additionally, what on the surface may look like quiet quitting can actually be quiet firing. A disabled employee may exhibit lack of job enthusiasm or poorly preform their basic job duties. But in actuality it could be lack of reasonable accommodations to complete their tasks. I have witness disabled colleagues advocating and requesting accommodations only to get radio silence resulting in actual quitting or dismissal.
More Scrutiny and Consequences
Disabled employees can be scrutinized more than abled body colleagues. We sometimes feel we have to work twice as hard for half as much. So quiet quitting is more of a luxury . There are more consequences for us. For example, in all of my positions I have maintained a professional dress and wardrobe. I have taken extra time to properly groom myself. I know that because I am blind, people will focus more on my appearance than a sighted co-worker. I remember, at one job we had casual dress days but I still wore my professional attire.
What Do You Think?
When I think about all of this, I don’t see where quiet quitting is a real option for the disabled. I have given my perspective, but what are your thoughts? Do you believe the disabled can quietly quit? Have you experienced quiet quitting or even quiet firing? Share your thoughts and experiences with me.
2 thoughts on “Can the Disabled Quietly Quit? No, and Here’s Why”
this is a very informative article. I would have never realized this if I had not
read it. GOOD WORK
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for commenting. Yes, new words for an old action. But I didn’t know about quiet firing until I was working on this post.