Increase in Employment Discrimination Lawsuits
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Number Latest Month 183
Percent Change from previous month 21.2%
Percent Change from 1 year ago 12.0%
Percent Change from 5 years ago 89.6%

Table 1. Federal Employment Litigation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during April 2012 there were 183 new lawsuits filed claiming employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 21.2% over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 151.

The comparisons of the number of ADA filings for employment discrimination are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC (see Table 1).

Monthly 2012 civil filings of this type are up 12.0% compared with those of the same period in the previous year. Civil filings for April 2012 are also higher than they were for the same period five years ago: up 89.6% from levels reported in April 2007.

Most of the 183 ADA filings were by individuals suing employers for alleged employment discrimination. However, in one case in the Western District of Kentucky (Owensboro) the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took a company to court, while in three cases the federal government was sued over its employment practices. The cases in which the federal government was sued involved the Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Justice Department.

The district with the largest number of lawsuits filed during April was the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) where 12 suits were filed during April. Among the suits was one filed against the Brookhaven Science Associates. That organization was established to manage and operate the Brookhaven National Laboratory on behalf of Battelle and The Research Foundation of State University of New York (SUNY). Among the other suits filed was one against Cambridge Who's Who Publishing, and another against Lord & Taylor.

Bar and line plot of fymon
Figure 1. Federal Employment Litigation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Within the Last Five Years

The long term trend in ADA employment discrimination filings going back five years is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of these cases recorded each month. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. One-year and five-year change comparisons are based upon the moving averages.

Ranking of Judicial Districts in Fiscal 2012

Table 2. Federal Employment Litigation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Fiscal Year 2012 (through April)
District HQ City* Number Rate** Rank
United States 1,117 3.6 -
Top 10 Districts — Relative to Population
Okla, N Tulsa 16 15.9 1
Fla, N Pensacola 21 12.2 2
N. Y., S Manhattan 39 7.6 3
Ill, N Chicago 70 7.4 4
Wyoming Cheyenne 4 7.3 5
Tenn, M Nashville 16 7.2 6
S Car Columbia 33 7.2 6
Nevada Las Vegas 19 7.2 6
Miss, N Oxford 8 7.2 6
Penn, E Philadelphia 40 7.0 10
Bottom 10 Districts — Relative to Population
La, M Baton Rouge 1 1.3 80
Cal, E Sacramento 10 1.3 80
Cal, C Los Angeles 21 1.1 82
Ga, M Macon 2 1.0 83
R. I. Providence 1 0.9 84
Mo, W Kansas City 2 0.6 85
Wisc, W Madison 1 0.4 86
Cal, S San Diego 1 0.3 87
W Virg, S Charleston 0 0 88
Nebraska Omaha 0 0 88
Ala, S Mobile 0 0 88
*Data apply to entire district; headquarters city provided for reference only
**Lawsuits filed per million population

During the first seven months of fiscal year 2012 a total of 1,117 federal employment discrimination suits have been filed in federal district courts throughout the county under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Relative to population, this total translates into an average of 3.6 suits per million individuals so far this year.

Understandably, there is great variation in the number of these lawsuits in each of the nation's ninety federal judicial districts within the country's fifty states. Table 2 shows the 10 districts with the most lawsuits and the 10 districts with the fewest lawsuits so far this fiscal year relative to each district's population size.

The Northern District of Oklahoma (Tulsa) saw 16 ADA employment discrimination suits filed so far this fiscal year. Relative to its population, this was over four times the national average — the highest rate in the country.

The Northern District of Florida (Pensacola) recorded a total of 21 ADA employment discrimination lawsuits during the same period or over three times the national rate, while the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) came in third with over twice the rate of ADA suits filed relative to its population.

At the other extreme were three out of four of the judicial districts in California which, relative to their respective population sizes, all ranked in the bottom 10 in their rates of ADA employment discrimination suits filed. For example, the Central District of California (Los Angeles) ranked 82nd out of 90, with less than a third the rate of civil litigation in this area. See Table 2.

If the number of suits filed were considered — without adjusting for population size — it is not suprising that the three federal judicial districts that ranked highest are all centered in large cities. Topping the list was Chicago's Northern District of Illinois with 70 suits, followed by the Philadelphia's Eastern District of Pennsylvania with 40 suits. Manhattan's Southern District of New York was third with 39 ADA employment discrimination suits so far this year.

Report Generated: May 30, 2012
TRAC Copyright
Copyright 2012, TRAC Reports, Inc.