NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

ADA Generates Flood Of Discrimination Claims

September 25, 1998

Critics say the Americans With Disabilities Act is being used as a club against employers by some workers who are filing spurious claims.

  • Discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission swelled from 15,099 in fiscal year 1993 to more than 18,000 last year.
  • The cases range from obese workers claiming they are disabled to alcoholics contending they shouldn't be fired.
  • The most recent Census Bureau data show that from 1991 to 1994 the number of "severely disabled" workers jumped by 800,000 -- a 27 percent increase.
  • Under the law, employers with 15 or more workers must make "reasonable accommodations" for people with disabilities who are able to perform essential job functions.

But employees who have been fired have asserted that they have learning disorders. And workers who can't get along with their bosses have requested new supervisors, saying tense relationships amplify their depression.

Back impairments were the most frequently claimed disability, followed by emotional/psychiatric problems. Nearly 3,000 substance abuse cases were filed between July 1992 and September 1997.

Even two Nebraska EEOC investigators claimed they were unfairly fired when they couldn't get their work done because they were clinically depressed. They won a judgment for nearly $295,000, which is being appealed.

Source: Stephanie Armour, "Disabilities Act Abused?" USA Today, September 25, 1998.


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