The big sell: Managing stigma and workplace discrimination following moderate to severe brain injury.


BACKGROUND Misperceptions regarding persons with brain injuries (PWBI) can lead to stigmatization, workplace discrimination and, in turn, influence PWBIs full vocational integration. OBJECTIVE In this study we explored how stigma may influence return-to-work processes, experiences of stigma and discrimination at the workplace for persons with (moderate to severe) brain injuries, and strategies that can be employed to manage disclosure. METHODS Exploratory qualitative study; used in-depth interviews and an inductive thematic analytical approach in data analysis. Ten PWBI and five employment service providers participated. PWBI discussed their work experiences, relationships with supervisors and co-workers and experiences of stigma and/or discrimination at work. Employment service providers discussed their perceptions regarding PWBI's rights and abilities to work, reported incidents of workplace discrimination, and how issues related to stigma, discrimination and disclosure are managed. RESULTS Three themes were identified: i) public, employer and provider knowledge about brain injury and beliefs about PWBI; ii) incidents of workplace discrimination; iii) disclosure. Misperceptions regarding PWBI persist amongst the public and employers. Incidents of workplace discrimination included social exclusion at the workplace, hiring discrimination, denial of promotion/demotion, harassment, and failure to provide reasonable accommodations. Disclosure decisions required careful consideration of PWBI needs, the type of information that should be shared, and the context in which that information is shared. CONCLUSIONS Public understanding about PWBI remains limited. PWBI require further assistance to manage disclosure and incidents of workplace discrimination.

DOI: 10.3233/WOR-172556

Cite this paper

@article{StergiouKita2017TheBS, title={The big sell: Managing stigma and workplace discrimination following moderate to severe brain injury.}, author={Mary Stergiou-Kita and Alisa Grigorovich and Thecla Damianakis and Guylaine Le Dorze and Christine David and Carolyn M. Lemsky and Debbi{\'e} Hebert}, journal={Work}, year={2017}, volume={57 2}, pages={245-258} }