The rise of disability claims- How to avoid them

On February 11, 2016 the EEOC released the FY2015 Enforcement and Litigation Data.  Consistent with prior years, retaliation claims continued to dominate, with 44.5% of the claims that the EEOC received.  The second was race, which consisted of 34.7% of claims received by the EEOC.  But what stood out the most was disability discrimination, which was up 6% from 2014.  Why are the disability claims up this year?  There are multiple possible explanations:

-          Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended in 2009, there is an increase of the number of people who can be considered to have a disability, and whether there is possibility that reasonable accommodation exists to enable that employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

-          Less sophisticated businesses are not prepared to engage employees in an interactive process to address requests for accommodation

-          The possibility to overlap a serious health condition and a disability exists, so it’s easy to pair an FMLA claim with an ADA claim.

-          Many businesses don’t buy flood insurance until they’ve had a flood.  Basically in a flat economy many businesses are reactive to lawsuits and do not invest in proactive ways to prevent them.  One easy way to be proactive is to update handbooks to include up-to-date federal and state employment law policies.  (As a service to our monthly concierge clients, myHRcounsel includes handbook updating).

Training employees on how to request reasonable accommodation, and training managers how to address the requests are simple ways to reduce the risk of potential disability discrimination claims in 2016.  Communication and being prepared are the two cornerstones of a compliant workplace. 

For further support on accommodating disability claims, contact myHRcounsel!