The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken a tough stance on employer interference with workers who file Americans With Disabilities Act complaints.
The guidance issued by the commission explains that the ADA law makes it unlawful to “coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere” with anyone who attempts to exercise ADA rights or who assists or encourages others to do so.
EEOC also notes the interference provisions of the ADA are broader than the statute’s anti-retaliation provisions. They can apply to actions that don’t necessarily involve actual retaliation, and protect individuals pursuing relief who don’t possess a covered disability.
Examples of ADA interference cited in the EEOC guidance include:
- Requiring an unlawful pre-employment medical examination, regardless of whether the person is offered the job or is disabled.
- Having a policy that limits an employee’s ADA rights, such as a fixed leave policy providing for no exceptions.
- Engaging in practices that would end up discouraging applicants or employees from pursuing accommodations or job positions that would require accommodations.
“These broader protections should concern employers,” observe attorneys Kristin L. Bauer and Paul Patten of the law firm of Jackson Lewis. They add that EEOC already has invoked ADA interference protections in recent class-based litigation mounted against employers.
In 2015 alone EEOC pursued more disabilityrelated litigation against employers than any other kind, the attorneys point out.
Disability-related policies also fall under two of the six enforcement priorities in the EEOC’s strategic enforcement plans for fiscal years 2012 to 2016 and fiscal years 2017-21 (AA, 11-15-16, P 2).