Employers in the U.S. hospitality industry are often reluctant to hire people with disabilities because of prejudices and stereotypes that these individuals are incompetent at doing the job or that they are most costly to employ than people without disabilities, according to a new study.

University of New Hampshire researchers surveyed 320 hospitality companies across the nation and found similar concerns and challenges regarding employment of people with disabilities.

Researchers found that the most frequently cited challenge or concern among hospitality or leisure companies is that the “nature of the work is such that it cannot be effectively performed by people with disabilities” and researchers noted that workplace accommodations have been a “tried-and-true method of addressing the nature of the work.”

The survey also found that the cost of accommodation is the second most cited challenge or concern even among companies that are proactive in employing people, according to the study authors.

Employers also cited the cost of worker compensation, the nature of the work, coworkers’ attitudes, discomfort and unfamiliarity, and no knowing the effectiveness of people with disabilities as employment obstacles.

Researchers recommended that employers be offered tax credits to compensate for accommodation costs and productivity difference to encourage companies to employ people with disabilities.

Disability awareness training is often cited as a useful tool to facilitate the employment of people with disabilities. Researchers said that such training would correct misconceptions people may have towards individuals with disabilities like not having appropriate competencies for their jobs, being less productive and being more accident prone.

"Preconceived notions about the nature of the work that people with disabilities can do and how to accommodate workers with disabilities is a major challenge, even among companies that actively recruit people with disabilities. Creating a disability-friendly culture that is favorable and supportive of employees with disabilities is paramount in overcoming biases and stereotypes. Leadership must invest in managerial training to improve the workplace culture and inform the workforce on benefits when working with people with disabilities," the authors wrote.

The study is published in the journal Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.