Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jennifer Bragger

Committee Member

Valerie Sessa

Committee Member

Meredyth Appelbaum


Discrimination in employment, People with disabilities--Employment, Pregnant women--Employment, Organizational behavior


A recent plethora of discrimination court cases regarding granting disability and pregnancy accommodations have brought to light many questions surrounding why outcome decisions have lacked uniformity. One such answer to these questions may be the central role that “business necessity” plays in whether or not a disabled or pregnant employee is granted accommodation. The current study sought to explore the potential perceptual bias in business necessity by investigating whether pregnant and disabled candidates were accommodated similarly and whether job status and the nature of the accommodation influenced decisions to accommodate. Using a group of HR professionals as our sample, the data was analyzed using a repeated measures vignette design. Our results indicated that job status was a factor significantly related to perceptual bias in granting accommodation to pregnant and disabled employees when interpreting business necessity. We also found an interaction between high status, physical limitation jobs and high status, stress limitation jobs in whether accommodation was granted. These findings have far-reaching implications not only for pregnant and disabled workers, but also for their children and future children. Our results point to how imperative it is to clarify business necessity and incorporate that clarification into law. As the laws stand now, the perceptual bias in job status can lead workers in lower status jobs to not receive the accommodations they deserve. These workers are the employees most at-risk for further injury to themselves and their children if they are not granted equivalent accommodations as similarly disabled workers in higher-status occupations.

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Psychology Commons