Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

New EEOC Charge System Slights Psych Claims

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

New EEOC Charge System Slights Psych Claims

Article excerpt

Under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's new three-tiered charge system, people with psychiatric disabilities who are filing complaints against employers under the Americans With Disabilities Act are less likely than those with other disabilities to receive benefits or conciliation, reported Michael D. Ullman of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his colleagues.

The researchers analyzed all 66,298 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges filed during a 33-month period since July 1, 1995, when the new three-tiered system was implemented (Psychiatr. Serv. 52[5]:644-49, 2001).

Previous EEOC policy required full investigation of all charges. The new system divides charges into three priority levels. Only those charges assigned a high priority level (category A) receive a full investigation. These are claims that, on initial review, demonstrate a high probability that discrimination has occurred. Charges in which evidence of discrimination is not as compelling, or the employer is not covered by laws enforced by the EEOC, are classified as category C and slated for immediate dismissal. Charges for which additional evidence is needed are classified as category B and are followed up by independent investigators only as resources permit.

At each priority level, cases involving individuals with psychiatric disabilities had a lower overall benefit rate than cases involving individuals with other disabilities, Mr. Ullman and his colleagues reported.

Among category A cases involving individuals with nonpsychiatric disabilities, the rate of successful conciliation was significantly higher (10%) than among category A cases involving individuals with psychiatric disabilities (7%). Charges by claimants suffering from the three most prevalent psychiatric impairments-anxiety, depression, and manic depression-were significantly less likely to receive a category A assignment than were charges by claimants with other disabilities, the researchers noted. …

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