This month, there have been two dyslexia employment related articles circulation the internet.
Starbucks Dyslexia Employment Lawsuit
A Starbucks in London accused an employee of falsifying documents. The employee, Meseret Kumulchew, had notified her bosses of her dyslexia. Although she had taken the correct actions, they punished her, instead of determining reasonable accommodation.
The story prompted a strong reaction to many people in the dyslexia community. Although discrimination is illegal in the US and the UK, it still happens.
I’ve had at least one supervisor talk to the rest of the team behind my back about my problems. Another time, I was written up for being “lazy” in a separate job. At yet another job, I was penalized the first day for making a mistake during training. I was punished at another job for letting it slip that I was dyslexic.
Is it any wonder why it’s such a struggle to disclose dyslexia or any other invisible disability?
I’m glad Meseret spoke up, take Starbucks to court and win the case. It’s not because I’m a vindictive person, but because it highlights the struggle many adult dyslexics face every day. We’re largely erased when dyslexia is brought up, because it’s still seen as a childhood struggle.
I’d love to see more people who have been discriminated against stand up for themselves and speak publicly about their problems. The only way to create change is to speak out about what’s going wrong.
Only Dyslexics Need Apply
Coincidentally, later that same week a UK based marketing company released an ad campaign looking for only dyslexic workers. The premise is that dyslexic people have more creative thought patterns because they’ve been forced to figure out how to cope with the world.
I have mixed feelings on this one. Although “out of the box thinking” tends to be more prevalent in the dyslexic population, we don’t have a monopoly on that trait. Emphasizing dyslexia employment can exclude other marginalized non-dyslexic populations. However, it all depends on how the hiring process goes.
On the other hand, I have to admit, it’s very nice to see an employer being so blatantly accepting of people with my particular form of neurology. It’s refreshing to see something usually framed as something terrible portrayed as a desirable trait.
Overall, I don’t see it as big a deal as certain parties are making it out to be. I highly doubt that it’ll catch on, but I do hope to see the image of dyslexia in the workplace changing in a positive way.
The one thing these stories have in common is they show how far much needs to change in the workplace in relation to disability. It makes sense, since that’s true of the greater population.