Background Social Structures and Disability Discrimination in the United States and Canada

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Mark C. Weber


social model of disability, employment law, comparative law – Canada and United States


Several social structures deeply affect the equality of people with disabilities, but are not ordinarily considered when addressing attitudinal and environmental barriers that disadvantage disabled people. These structures, which relate to employment and the law that regulates it, are: (1) the legal doctrine of employment at will as opposed to notice or severance payment in lieu of notice; (2) unionization or its absence; and (3) government-sponsored social insurance programs. These structures differ from country to country, even between nations with a similar legal heritage. Drawing comparisons between Canada and the United States with regard to each social structure, this paper describes these arrangements and their impact, then discusses how their reform could enhance equality for people with disabilities.

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