NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Americans With Disabilities Act Harms Disabled Workers

October 29, 1998

A new study concludes the Americans with Disabilities Act harms the very people it was designed to protect. Faced with the potential for lawsuits and expensive workplace changes, employers have become wary of hiring job applicants with disabilities -- even though employers risk discrimination actions by passing them over.

Here are some excerpts from the report compiled by Daron Acemoglu and Joshua Angrist, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

  • From July 1992 to September 1997, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 90,803 charges under the ADA.
  • Over 11,000 of them were resolved by the EEOC.
  • Employers were required to pay more than $174 million in settlements -- not including administrative costs, lawyers' fees, and private settlements in or out of court.
  • Records show employees file more than 40,000 cases each year against employers, including ADA cases, in state and federal courts -- most of which are for discrimination.

Employees win almost 60 percent of the time -- with the average award more than $167,000. Defense costs average more than $40,000 per case. Economists point out this financial drain means less capital directed to job-creating investments.

After looking at data from 1988 to 1997, the researchers concluded: "The ADA had a negative effect on the employment of disabled men of all working ages and all disabled women under age 40."

Source: Perspective, "Good Intentions, Bad Results," Investor's Business Daily, October 29, 1998.


Browse more articles on Government Issues