Report Confirms Large Increase in ADA Employment Litigation in Federal Courts

A Syracuse University report provides confirmation for what employment litigators already suspected — the number of ADA employment lawsuits filed in federal court are way up, nearly 90% higher than five years ago and 12% from a year ago. To read the full report click here.

The report by Syracuse U.’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found 183 lawsuits were filed in April 2012 in the 90 federal district courts around the country compared to less than 100 five years ago. The report also documents the steady increase in ADA employment litigation over the last five years.

The vast expansion of the definition of “disability” under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-325), which became effective January 1, 2009, is likely the biggest culprit, along with the general aging of the population and the continued economic downturn.

The report also details the 10 biggest hotbeds for ADA employment litigation, measured by lawsuits per capita in those judicial districts. Not surprisingly, federal courts based in Tulsa, Pensacola and Manhattan took the top three spots, with the courts based in Chicago, Las Vegas and Philadelphia occupying three other spots in the top 10.

Interestingly, three of the bottom 10 spots are held by federal courts in California, primarily because California disability discrimination laws and California’s state courts are, by far, the strong preference of the plaintiffs’ employment bar. I would love to see a similar report on disability in employment claims filed in California’s state court, but my experience tells me that we’d see a similar increase that we see in the federal statistics reported above.

Sadly, I’m afraid that these trends will continue for quite some time.