Employees with physical or psychological disabilities or long-term illness were twice as likely to be attacked and reported higher rates of insults, ridicule and intimidation in the workplace compared with other workers, according to a recently published study.

Researchers examined responses to interview questions given by 3,979 individuals, 284 of whom had a disability or long-term illness.

Among the 284 individuals with disability or long-term illness compared with those without disability or long-term illness:

  • 10.5% vs. 4.5% reported suffering from physical violence at work;
  • 7.4% vs. 3.5% reported being injured at work as a result of aggression;
  • 12.3% vs. 7.4% reported being humiliated or ridiculed at work;
  • 24.3% vs. 14.3% reported being insulted at work;
  • 34.5% vs. 23.1% reported being shouted at during work.

Individuals with disability or long-term illness reported that managers were responsible for 45% of the more serious ill-treatment, whereas customers or clients were responsible for 28% and colleagues for 18%.

Workers with a psychological or learning disability experienced worse treatment than those with physical disabilities or long-term physical health problems.

“Up to now, researchers have generally assumed that ill-treatment in the workplace was causing disabilities and health problems. Our work suggests ill-treatment happens to employees who already have disabilities or health problems,” Ralph Fevre, PhD, of the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, stated in a news release. The study was published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

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