Mediation of employment discrimination disputes involving persons with psychiatric disabilities

Psychiatr Serv. 2002 Aug;53(8):988-94. doi: 10.1176/


Objective: This study sought to determine whether persons with psychiatric disabilities who filed employment discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) were referred to the EEOC's mediation program with the same frequency as ADA claimants with other disabilities. The extent to which employers agreed to engage in mediation with claimants and the extent to which claimants benefited from participating in the mediation program were also examined.

Methods: The data included all 23,759 ADA charges filed with the EEOC from January 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000, and closed as of September 30, 2000. Percentages of mediation rates were computed, and chi square tests were conducted to test for differences between categories.

Results: Individuals with employment discrimination complaints based on psychiatric disabilities were slightly but significantly less likely to be referred by the EEOC to mediation than were individuals with other types of disabilities. Moreover, employers were significantly less willing to mediate with claimants who had psychiatric disabilities than with those who had nonpsychiatric disabilities. Once employers agreed to participate in mediation, however, the majority of cases were settled. No significant differences in settlement rates were found between cases with claimants who had psychiatric disabilities and cases with claimants who had other types of disabilities.

Conclusions: The EEOC's mediation program has been a remarkably successful development and has the potential to provide effective case resolution services to thousands of EEOC claimants. However, the agency should educate employers and EEOC investigators alike that many people with psychiatric disabilities can work productively and participate in mediation successfully.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disability Evaluation
  • Economics
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Employment*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Negotiating*
  • Prejudice*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Referral and Consultation