The federal agency that is tasked with the enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Since its inception, this agency has been entrusted with handling any and all litigation that is alleged to stem from employers infringing on their employees’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The agency has handled well over 200 lawsuits that were filed alleging disability discrimination charges since the beginning of the fiscal year of 2011. The charges in those lawsuits ran afoul of the ADA as well as the amendments to the act that were passed in 2008.
During that same time period, the agency was able to successfully recover nearly 52 million dollars in damages compensation on behalf of the litigants that were discriminated against. It was also able to successfully obtain important injunctions and other non-monetary relief in addition to the monetary compensation. The non-monetary relief was secured by the agency through a combination of jury verdicts and appellate court decision as well as court-entered consent decrees, and other litigation-related resolutions.
The lawsuits that were filed and successfully won ran a broad spectrum of workers representing a multitude of segments and related sectors of the workforce. This included workers from industries such as manufacturing and energy, to retail and agriculture as well as farming, medical, home care and construction, to name but a few.
Many of the lawsuits sought compensation for workers who were discriminated against for a variety of impairments such as cancer, epilepsy, blindness, emphysema, dwarfism and even narcolepsy. The nature of the discrimination ranged from employers failing to provide reasonable accommodation to employees that were afflicted with such ailments, to employers that purposely refrained from hiring applicants that were clearly qualified for vacant positions due to myths and stereotypes concerning certain impairments.
With the Silver Jubilee of ADA approaching, employers interested in learning more about employment law and their obligations under ADA may want to contact an attorney familiar with ADA for more information.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Fact Sheet on Recent EEOC Litigation-Related Developments Under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Accessed December 8, 2014