Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Disability claims definitely on the EEOC’s radar

I am often asked how I come up with ideas to post 5 days a week, every week. While the answer is a closely guarded secret, I will allow a little insight—the EEOC’s website is a wealth of information. Every news release by the agency announcing a new lawsuit or a settled claim presents an fresh blogging opportunity.

Recently, I’ve noticed an inordinate number of lawsuits filed by the EEOC claiming disability discrimination. So, I did a little digging. In the last 3 months, the agency has announced the filing of 54 new lawsuits. Of those, 22, or a staggering 41%, allege disability discrimination. The rate of filing is even higher when you consider that according to the EEOC's latest charge statistics, only 25% of all charges filed with EEOC contain a claim of disability discrimination. The agency is filing lawsuits at a rate 60% higher than it is receiving claims. These statistics should signal to employers that the agency is scrutinizing how you are handling your disabled workforce.

As I thought about these numbers, I also thought back to Sunday's season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm, titled, Larry v. Michael J. Fox. Apparently a very good sport, Fox allowed Larry David to ask the age-old question, “Pissed or Parkinson’s?” Larry had shushed Fox while Larry’s girlfriend was playing piano in a lounge, and spent the better part of the episode trying to figure out if Fox’s subsequent behavior (a head shake, an shaken soda, a bump-into) was from anger stemming from the shush, or Fox’s Parkinson’s.

Kudos to Fox for not hiding from his disability, but using it humorously to raise awareness. Perhaps if more people approached disabilities in this open and inclusive manner, we’d have less of a need for EEOC lawsuits.