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Study: Disabled Losing Nearly All Employment Discrimination Cases

July 1, 2003 -- Over 9 out of 10 times, employers won when their employees filed disability discrimination lawsuits against them. Those are the findings in a new report in the current issue of the American Bar Association's Mental & Physical Disability Law Reporter: employers prevailed in 94.5 percent of 327 cases decided in federal courts across the United States last year.

The report looked at 442 court decisions in Title I cases from 2002 that appeared in the publication through its March-April issue. "The Fifth Circuit had the highest percentage of employee wins (15.4 percent), followed by the Eighth Circuit (14.6 percent) and the Tenth Circuit (9.5 percent)," says the study.

"The results clearly show a continuation of the pattern of employers prevailing and employees losing in an overwhelming majority of the final court outcomes and in a substantial majority of the administrative decisions," wrote Managing Editor Amy L. Allbright. "Even in the circuit that was most friendly to employees with disabilities (Fifth Circuit), employers prevailed nearly 85 percent of the time. The 5.5 percent of employee wins for 2002 -- close to 5.6 percent in 1998 -- slightly increased from 4.3 percent in 2001.

"As in prior years, the largest category of case decisions are those in which employers prevailed summarily without the merits of the employees' claims ever being considered.' Of the 309 employer wins, "only 3.9 percent were resolved on the merits."

Employees prevailed in 21.9 percent of EEOC administrative appeals, says the study. "Employees continue to have a better chance of prevailing at the administrative level than they do in court. However, even the EEOC complainants in 2002 did not prevail 78.1 percent of the time."

The report is online at

This is the sixth annual survey of employment cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title I, 42 U.S.C. ¤¤12111-117. The first survey examined Title I cases decided from 1992 to 1997; the second survey, 1998 decisions; the third survey, 1999 decisions; the fourth survey, 2000 decisions; and last yearŐs survey, 2001 decisions.


For more information, contact:
Amy L. Allbright, Managing Editor
Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter
American Bar Association
740 15th St., NW, 9th Fl.
Washington, DC 20005
202-662-1032 (Fax)






Expert sources

From the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers:

Historical Context of the ADA

ADA definition of disability

Overview of law's structure

The ADA is changing the landscape of America -- commentary

"The ADA changed my life" -- personal stories

The meaning of "disability" under ADA

"A misunderstood law" -- commentary

The ADA Notification Act

Supreme Court ADA decisions:

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