How Do I File A Disability Discrimination Claim With the EEOC?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in employment against qualified individuals with disabilities. The employment provisions of title I of the ADA apply to private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Employers with 25 or more employees were covered starting July 26, 1992, when title I went into effect. Employers with 15 or more employees were covered two years later, beginning July 26, 1994. The ADA defines an "individual with a disability" as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have substantial, as distinct from minor, impairments, and that these must be impairments that limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. An individual with epilepsy, paralysis, a substantial hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a learning disability would be covered, but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, infection, or broken limb, generally would not be covered.
The answer will depend in part on whether the employee's underlying condition qualifies as a disability under the Act. The employee must be qualified to do the essential functions of the job, with or without accomodation, to be a qualified person entitled to protection under the ADA. Employers are not required to relieve employees of work responsibilities or excuse them from violations of established work policies. But employers are required under ADA law to make "reasonable accommodations" for mentally disabled employees. These may include leaves of absence; minor modifications in work policy, supervision, or job position; or flexible work schedules.
It is possible for an employee to file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC. Anyone who feels that he or she has suffered workplace discrimination because of his or her race, age, physical disability, religion, sex, or national origin is eligible to file a complaint with the EEOC. Complaints or charges are generally filed at an EEOC office by the aggrieved party or by his or her designated agent. All charges must be filed in writing, preferably but not necessarily on the appropriate EEOC form, within 180 days of the occurrence of the act that is the reason the complaint is being filed. Complaints may be filed at any one of 50 district, area, local, and field EEOC offices throughout the United States.
After a complaint is filed, the EEOC then undertakes an investigation of the charge. If the investigation shows reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, the Commission launches conciliation efforts. The reaching of an agreement between the two parties signals closure of the case. If such an agreement cannot be reached, the EEOC has the option of filing suit in court or the aggrieved party may file suit on his or her own. If no violation of Title VII is found, the EEOC removes itself from the case, though the party charging discrimination is still free to file suit in court within a specified time.
The elements of proof will vary depending on the exact factual circumstances. Generally, there are two types of proof of discrimination. The first is direct evidence of the employer’s discriminatory intent. This type of evidence is very rare, but usually takes the form of oral statements that the prospective employee is "too old" or "there is too much gray hair in this company." Once the prospective employee has shown direct evidence of discrimination, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove that it would have taken the adverse action even without the discriminatory intent. In most cases, however, the prospective employee does not have direct evidence and must rely on indirect, or circumstantial, evidence. This typically involves proof that a pattern of discrimination exists through the use of statistical analysis, or providing circumstantial evidence that discrimination occurred.
This service provides information of a general legal nature, we are prohibited from offering legal advice. I suggest you contact a loal attorney who can review all the facts and documents involved in your case.