The unparalleled global support for the 2008 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("CRPD") highlights the global schism between the public extolling of human rights for individuals with disabilities and the private castigating of such individuals in their daily lives and in the workforce. The CRPD explicitly mandates that work is a right accorded to individuals with disabilities, and global employers are now being challenged to implement that right. Yet, in order to ensure meaningful, universal compliance with its directives, the CRPD imposes affirmative duties on Supporting States to develop a customized, workable plan that effectively addresses the biases about individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
Among the recommendations to achieve meaningful compliance, the CRPD advises Supporting States to modify their existing mediation and conciliation programs within their human rights institutions to meet the CRPD imperative. To meaningfully implement the CRPD, Supporting States must address the attitudinal biases that abound against individuals with disabilities, especially among employment recruiters, employers, employees, and even lawyers representing aggrieved clients, all individuals who are instrumental in implementing the CRPD mandates. Unless these biases in all their cultural variants are addressed, enforcement efforts, such as the establishment of mediation and conciliation programs, will be neutered.
This Article focuses on the challenges of designing such effective, culturally sensitive mediation and conciliation programs to resolve global workplace discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Part One explains the CRPD and its mandates, focusing on its workplace imperatives. Part Two illustrates the scope and magnitude of the discrimination through harrowing statistics. Part Three highlights how Supporting States must address the gap, in all its cultural variants, between the global, public support for the CRPD and the more private societal and personal biases towards individuals with disabilities. Part Four offers the ideological, functional, and cultural considerations to be incorporated when adapting responsive mediation, conciliation, or any facilitated negotiation forums to mediate workplace disputes arising out of the CRPD. Part Five concludes with a summary of the salient points Supporting States need to address to help make the CRPD's aspiration a meaningful reality.