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Settling the Matter: Does Title I of the ADA Work?

41 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2007 Last revised: 8 Aug 2011

Sharona Hoffman

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: August 8, 2011

Abstract

Analysis of cases decided under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which addresses employment discrimination, reveals that defendants have consistently prevailed in well over 90% of cases since the ADA's inception. This empirical evidence has led many commentators to conclude that the ADA's Title I has failed to improve workplace conditions for individuals with disabilities.

This article attempts to assess the efficacy of Title I through a different lens. It focuses on several data sets that have previously received little attention. It examines Equal Employment Opportunity Commission merit resolutions, lawsuit settlement statistics, and reports concerning reasonable accommodation requests processed by private and public sector employers. These statistics reveal that employers are reasonably responsive to Title I claimants outside of the courthouse setting and that the ADA has in fact improved workplace conditions for employees with disabilities.

The more general point made by this article is that the efficacy and impact of statutory mandates cannot be judged based solely on reported court opinions. Rather, data concerning the behavior of those covered by the statutes and extra-judicial dispute resolution are essential to an assessment of whether a statute has achieved the societal changes that it was designed to effect. Consequently, the paper emphasizes the need for more comprehensive empirical studies concerning ADA claim resolutions and outlines a proposal for mandatory reporting of settlement outcomes and the processing of reasonable accommodation requests by employers.

Keywords: ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, EEOC, workplace accommodations, employment discrimination, disability employment policies and procedures, settlement statistics, extra-judicial resolutions, expressive power of the law

JEL Classification: J71, J78, K31

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Sharona, Settling the Matter: Does Title I of the ADA Work? (August 8, 2011). Alabama Law Review, Vol. 59, No. 2, p. 305, 2008; Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=978198

Sharona Hoffman (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3860 (Phone)

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