Prevalence and Outcomes of Ada Employment Discrimination Claims in the Federal Courts
Mental & Physical Disability Law Reporter, Vol. 29, p. 303, May/June 2005
23 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2005
Context: The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was expected to decrease discrimination against and to increase the well-being of people with disabilities. The tendency of court decisions to limit rights under the ADA has been widely reported, but there have been no large-scale studies of court utilization and the overall pattern of outcomes.
Objective: This paper reports the national prevalence and outcomes of ADA employment discrimination lawsuits filed in federal court in the decade after the ADA's passage.
Design, Setting, and Cases: A two-stage stratified quasi-random sampling procedure was used to identify 8,777 ADA employment discrimination lawsuits in 16 federal district courts that were filed between January 1, 1993 and March 31, 2001 was screened; 4,114 ADA Title I cases were reviewed.
Main Outcome Measure: Receiving a benefit from filing an ADA Title I lawsuit, defined as a court ruling in favor of the plaintiff or a settlement between the parties.
Results: 201,371 Title I claims were eligible to be filed in federal court between 1993 and 2001. Of these, only an estimated 27,724 (13.8%) were actually filed. Title I claims took slightly longer than other civil rights or employment claims to be resolved. Plaintiffs received a beneficial outcome in 62% of cases. Plaintiffs benefited primarily through settlement, while defendants won 97% of the cases that were decided by a judge or jury. Attorney representation doubled plaintiffs' chances of benefiting.
Conclusions: Published case decisions create a misleading impression of ADA outcomes. ADA lawsuits benefit most people who file them. However, the low rate of filing and the importance of having a lawyer raise concerns about the ability of those experiencing discrimination to file claims or get legal services.
Keywords: disability, health, policy, law, ADA, employment, discrimination
JEL Classification: I18, I12, I10, K32, K31, K30, J71, J78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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By Ruth Colker