A recent study of EEOC ADA enforcement actions has revealed that Texas employers paid out $9.7 million to employees in 2013. That’s up sharply from $5.4 million in 2009.
The study, performed by the Dallas law firm Chamblee Ryan, charted ADA payouts in all 50 states since Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) in 2008. That law expanded the number of conditions that could be disabilities under the ADA. The legislation came in reaction to several Supreme Court rulings limiting the ADA’s scope.
Texas was one of 40 states where payouts rose between 2009 and 2013.
Here’s how EEOC ADA lawsuits usually work. Employees who believe they have been discriminated against because of a disability file a complaint with the EEOC, which then attempts to resolve the dispute. The conciliation process includes an investigation in which the commission determines whether discrimination likely occurred. If the parties fail to reach an agreement through this process, the EEOC may issue a “right to sue” letter to the employee. Sometimes the EEOC sues the employer on the employee’s behalf.
Note: Many employers lose ADA suits because they do not explore reasonable accommodations for the employee’s disability. Employers should have documentation showing the potential accommodations they have considered and why those they refused were not reasonable.