10 Neurodivergent Discrimination Red Flags That You Should Know

Rachel Worsley  |  26/08/2023

Discrimination can take various forms, including direct and indirect discrimination. Here are examples of both types of discrimination faced by neurodivergent employees.

Direct Discrimination:

  1. Hiring Decisions: A neurodivergent job applicant with strong qualifications is not hired solely because of their disclosure of an autism diagnosis during the interview process. This is direct discrimination based on their disability.
  2. Promotion Denial: An employee with ADHD who has consistently performed well and meets the criteria for a promotion is passed over for the position due to assumptions that their neurodivergent condition may affect their ability to handle increased responsibilities. This is direct discrimination.
  3. Work Assignments: A manager consistently assigns more challenging and high-profile tasks to neurotypical employees, believing that neurodivergent employees are not capable of handling such assignments. This is direct discrimination based on disability.

Indirect Discrimination:

  1. Uniform Policies: A company enforces a strict dress code that includes wearing certain types of clothing, such as collared shirts, which can be sensory discomforting for some neurodivergent individuals due to tactile sensitivities. This policy indirectly discriminates against those with sensory processing differences.
  2. Communication Styles: An organization primarily uses in-person, spontaneous communication as the default method of collaboration. This can indirectly discriminate against employees with social communication challenges, such as those on the autism spectrum, who may perform better with structured or written communication.
  3. Inflexible Working Hours: Requiring all employees to work from 9 AM to 5 PM without any flexibility can indirectly discriminate against neurodivergent employees who may benefit from adjusted working hours to accommodate their needs, such as those with ADHD who work more effectively during non-traditional hours.
  4. Performance Metrics: A company evaluates employee performance solely on the ability to meet specific metrics that may not take into account the diverse strengths and challenges of neurodivergent individuals. This can indirectly discriminate against those whose strengths lie in areas not covered by these metrics.
  5. Training and Development: Providing all training materials exclusively in written formats without alternative formats or additional support can indirectly discriminate against neurodivergent employees who may require visual or auditory learning accommodations.
  6. Inaccessible Facilities: Not providing accessible facilities, such as quiet spaces or sensory-friendly work areas, indirectly discriminates against neurodivergent individuals who require these accommodations
  7. Absence Policies: Implementing rigid absence policies that do not consider the needs of neurodivergent employees, who may require more frequent breaks or have medical appointments related to their condition, can indirectly discriminate against them.

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