Maxine Neuhauser, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Newark office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “Increased ADA Filings at EEOC Presage Lingering Challenges,” by Anne Cullen. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Americans with Disabilities Act charges rose at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2022, and almost one-third of the lawsuits the agency filed this fiscal year invoke the ADA. Experts say long COVID and mental health issues will continue to fuel disability bias claims.

The EEOC saw a bump in charges filed alleging ADA violations last year, upwards of 25,000, a 10% increase from 2021. And so far this fiscal year, which kicked off in October, the agency has launched 14 suits including a disability discrimination claim, accounting for more than 30% of the 44 total cases lodged over the past eight months, according to Law360's EEOC litigation tracker.

Employment lawyers said they're not surprised that the more than 30-year-old law accounts for a sizable chunk of the EEOC's current workload.

A developing understanding of the unseen effects of long COVID, the heightened demand for remote work options and increasing awareness of workers' mental health struggles have all contributed to the uptick, experts said, and will continue to spark ADA claims for years. …

Mental Health a Factor

The pandemic also put employees' mental health in an unprecedented spotlight, normalizing conversations in the workplace about conditions like anxiety and depression, experts said. This destigmatization led to more workers seeking accommodations for mental health conditions, said Epstein Becker Green member Maxine Neuhauser.

"The expectation of employees to be reasonably accommodated with respect to their mental health needs is growing," she said. …

Regardless of the relatively slim number of new EEOC suits in 2022, Epstein Becker's Neuhauser said employers should be paying attention to the rising number of ADA claims coming across the commission's desk.

"For a lot of my clients, the issue is a little less about what the EEOC is doing, but what it is that the EEOC statistics tell us," Neuhauser said. "And the statistics tell us we need to be paying attention to our workers' mental health issues."

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