Objective: In June 1995 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) instituted a new charge priority policy. Under the new policy, charges are classified as one of three priority levels during or immediately after intake. Only charges assigned a high priority receive a full investigation. This paper examines the effect of the charge priority policy on individuals with psychiatric disabilities who filed Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) charges with the EEOC.
Methods: Using data extracted from the EEOC's charge data system, the authors analyzed all 66,298 ADA claims prioritized and closed between June 1995 and March 1998. The z test for difference in proportions and the generalized estimating equations procedure were used. The primary outcome measure was the priority assignment received by ADA claimants.
Results: Charges that received a high priority assignment were more likely to result in benefits for claimants. Charges filed by claimants with psychiatric disabilities were significantly less likely to be assigned a high priority than charges filed by other claimants. Claimants with psychiatric disabilities were also significantly less likely to benefit from their claims.
Conclusions: The strong relationship between being assigned high priority and receiving benefits as a result of filing a charge demonstrates the importance of accurate priority categorization. The finding that people with psychiatric disabilities are less likely than others to benefit from their claims is cause for concern, particularly given the fact that the accuracy of the charge prioritization system has not been validated.