Fewer Employment Lawsuits Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
The latest available data from the federal courts show divergent trends for civil filings under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). New lawsuits filed under ADA's employment provisions have fallen off sharply during the last three months. In March there were just 152 new suits filed, the lowest since January of 2016. Just three months ago in December 2018 a total of 270 ADA employment filings were lodged. Until recently, according to the case-by-case court records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, ADA employment suits had been slowly trending higher. See Figure 1.
Figure 1. New Lawsuits Filed under Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act
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Figure 2. New Lawsuits Filed under Non-Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act
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Distinctive Patterns by Judicial District
Over seventy percent of non-employment ADA suits filed during the first six months of FY 2017 occurred in just five out of the 90 federal judicial districts within the 50 states. These five districts were in California, the Southern District of Florida (Miami), and the Southern District of New York (Manhattan). Trends as a result were highly influenced by what is happening in these five districts. Comparing FY 2019 with FY 2018, four out of five of these districts saw increasing trends, with the jump in filings in Southern District of Florida (Miami) and the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) largely driving the observed growth in non-employment filings. See Table 1.
In contrast, employment ADA cases are not highly concentrated. The same five districts only accounted for one in ten of these cases during the first six months of FY 2019. As shown in Table 1, the decline in employment cases occurred because a larger proportion of districts (50 out of 90) experienced declines in their average monthly filings than stayed the same (7 out of 90) or saw increasing lawsuits (33 out of 90).
 Out of the four federal judicial districts in California, all but the Eastern District (Sacramento) had more than twice the average of ADA non- employment filings relative to their population sizes.
Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.