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RAISE The Standard, June 2024, v.10 n.6

RAISE (The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center) logo

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African American male employee having frought conversation with Caucasian male supervisor

Working Through Conflict on the Job

Workplace conflict can make the difference between employment and unemployment, or success and stagnation. A complicated and high-stakes conflict can set up a particularly difficult challenge for anyone, and especially those who have a disability. Work-based conflicts often add pressure creating tension at work. The conflict might escalate if the employee and employer do not have the skills to navigate an uncomfortable situation. Knowing how to avoid conflict and/or resolve it can have a lasting impact on one’s confidence and future employment. 

In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we will explore what it takes to help youth with disabilities manage differences of viewpoint in the workplace and find the resources and practices to maximize their career potential.


6 Conflict Dos and Don'ts

In this 5-minute video by Galen Emanuele from Shift Yes, viewers can learn the Do’s and Don’ts for managing conflict at work:

  1. Do not try to resolve the problem when you are emotionally upset.
  2. Don’t treat your assumptions as the truth.
  3. Don’t accuse people or label them.
  4. Do not believe that your view is the full truth.
  5. Don’t treat people how you feel - don’t yell. 
  6. Do not believe you are good at resolving conflict – it is hard work.

Now that you know what NOT to do, check out the video to learn what you CAN do:  Watch the video on Youtube.


ADA and Hiring

While legal action is not always the first step to take in an employment dispute, it can help to know about legal rights when interacting with a boss, HR department, or whoever serves that role. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), along with many similar state laws, bans discrimination against people with disabilities. Its protections begin during the employment search and extend to the workplace. According to this law, employers must:

  • Focus questions about the candidate’s abilities on specific job tasks, like reading or filing, not their specific diagnosis.

  • Not withdraw a job offer because a candidate has a disability, but only if the employee is “unable to perform the essential functions of the job with accommodation.”

  • Restrict further questions about an employee’s known disability to what is required to provide better accommodation.

  • Work with employees, when possible, to allow them to complete job tasks.

  • Not request information about whether a job applicant has a disability.

  • Not allow harassment, bullying, or offensive conduct targeted toward an employee due to their disability.

This extensive guidance from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission provides more information:

Click here to view in English

Haga clic aquí para ver en Español

Avoiding Workplace Conflict

The best way to handle workplace conflict is to avoid it all together. Here are a few strategies that can minimize the possibility of a workplace conflict.

Prepare – Remember what you need to perform your job before leaving for work. Make sure that you wear any uniform, and if your clothing needs to meet safety standards, check that it does. Avoid late-night celebrations, parties, or other activities the night before an early workday.

Plan ahead – Look at the overall trends and patterns in your workplace. If you know that a specific day or time of year will be busier or more intense, try to save your energy around that time. Anticipate what your coworkers and supervisors will expect based on their past expectations.

Ask questions – If you are struggling to complete a workplace task, ask for help before the small problem grows into a bigger one. This is especially important with any physical equipment you may encounter in your work. 

Present professionally – Wear clothing that meets the level of formality your workplace requires. Avoid being the only employee who dresses casually, and when in doubt, look at what your coworkers are doing. 

Avoid excess phone use – If you are on your phone at work, others may think you are not working. In a workplace where employees can use their cell phones during the workday, make sure you use the phone less than or as much as your coworkers do, not more. In a workplace where employees are banned from using their cell phones, do not use your phone except in an emergency.

Arrive on time – Consider the possibility of public transportation delays, traffic jams, or detours when you decide how early you will leave for work. Aim to arrive a few minutes early, and more if you have a long trip with more possible problems on the way. 

Prepare necessary paperwork – If you need paperwork for your job, like certifications or proof of education, bring it when your employer needs it.

Be friendly – Avoid a surly or angry demeanor on the jobsite. Norms for friendliness vary depending on the workplace, but in general, avoid being mean. It seems obvious and unhelpful but ignoring this rule can quickly set up conflict.

This video from INCLUDEnyc has these solid ideas, packaged in the context of a job interview, but are good as general workplace advice: Watch on YouTube.


Centers for Independent Living

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) may be able to help adults with various types of disabilities get and keep a job; they often offer employment training and coaching services, and cover a wide range of disability types, including physical disabilities. Many times, support from the staff at the CILs can help employees with disabilities understand and reduce workplace conflicts.

Click here to find a list of Centers for Independent Living, and find the one nearest you.

Information and Communication Technologies

Communications technologies can make work tasks easier, helping to reduce workplace conflict. Web technologies like screen readers, video communication apps, captioning software, speech recognition software, and visual assistance software can all help.

Click here to learn more about digital technologies for inclusion and access.


Reporting and Managing Workplace Harassment

Sometimes teasing is not funny. It’s not just “annoying.” In fact, workplace harassment is considered a form of discrimination. It is a violation of federal law. Harassment happens when a reasonable person would feel uncomfortable, intimidated, threatened, unwelcomed, degraded, humiliated, or would view the language/behavior as offensive.

For more on what to do, we turned to JAN, Job Accommodation Network:

If you or someone you care about is being harassed at work: 

  1. Ask yourself: “Can I safely try to address the harassment with the person by whom I am being harassed?” If the person is your boss or the harassment is threatening violence, or it is happening with more than one person or a group, it may be unsafe, and you may need to move to more formal measures.
  2. Document the behaviors, words or language that is harassment.  
  3. Document the specific behaviors that constitute the harassment. Bullying or harassment can include humiliating treatment, exclusion, “unrealistically high workloads or deadlines, and physical intimidation or abuse.” 
  4. Make a copy of the documentation to give to your supervisor. 
  5. Report the harassment to a supervisor, with as many details of the harassment as possible. With the lists of language and behaviors in writing you will be able to stay focused and to the point.


There are eight (8) Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Centers throughout the United States that provide training and programming to youth and young adults with disabilities, their families, professionals, and other Parent Centers. The focus is on issues surrounding youth transition.


RSA Parent Centers are funded by the Rehabilitation Service Administration (RSA) under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which is part of the US Department of Education.

In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we focus on the Midwestern Collaborative:

The Midwestern Collaborative brings a unique opportunity for 8 Parent Training and Information Centers (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) to explore, create, and celebrate statewide services that focus on the development of self-advocacy, self-discovery, and independence for youth with disabilities. Working closely with professionals from both Vocational Rehabilitation Centers and Centers for Independent Living, it brings collaborative and innovative services to guide youth with disabilities and their families to services centering on secondary transition and life after high school.

This is a project of Parent Centers across Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. This online center provides training and information that empowers and supports youth in transition to access independent living and employment as they transition to adult lives. This project supports youth, their families, and professionals to improve their capacity to support youth with disabilities on their journey.


icon with several books on a bluish green circular background

Disability Discrimination and Employment Decisions:

Job Training and Employment Programs List:

WorkforceGPS Resources for Disability in Public Employment:


The RAISE Youth Advocates for Change (YAFC) have produced podcasts on topics important to them as youth with disabilities, to amplify the youth voice and support parent centers as they continue to engage with youth and their families.

View Episode 7, Co-Workers and Low Expectations, on Youtube.


Monday, July 15, 2024 at 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time – The Challenges for Transition-aged Youth with Mental Illness and their Families – Part II presented by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

In this webinar, NAMI will do a deep dive into resources they created for students with mental health challenges and how it relates to the transition to adult life process. ASL interpretation & Spanish interpretation will be offered!

Register here.

Thursday, July 25th, 2024 at 9am

St. Louis, Missouri, Crowne Plaza at St. Louis Airport

This year’s RAISE summit, hosted by the National RAISE Center, will focus on improving transition outcomes, with an emphasis on key partners in transition planning and young adult involvement. Click here to learn more.

RAISE The Standard

Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor:

Josie Badger

Visit our Website:

The RAISE Technical Assistance Center is working to advance the accessibility of its digital resources, including its websites, enewsletters and various digital documents.

* For more on SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and all of the complementary programs supported, visit


RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

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The RAISE Center is a project of the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network and is funded by the US Department of Education's Rehabilitation Service Administration. The contents of this resource were developed under a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Education (H235G200007)). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

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