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Study Finds Eeoc Has Never Been Funded to Handle Ada Complaints Properly

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following article is re-printed from Inclusion Daily Express, December 19, 2001. It clearly demonstrates the folly of passing progressive legislation without the necessary funding to adequately enforce it.

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA--The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act has not lived up to its promise of eliminating discrimination in the workplace, in part because the agency that handles discrimination complaints has not been given adequate resources to do its job.

That is the conclusion of a study completed by a team of researchers and recently published in the Kansas Law Review. The researchers reviewed how discrimination complaints were handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for enforcing the ADA's employment provisions. They also visited 10 EEOC field offices, interviewed dozens of EEOC field office staff and officials, and gathered data from state and local agencies.

"What we found basically is that the EEOC has never been funded to do thorough investigations of each discrimination complaint," said research leader Dr. Kathryn Moss, a research fellow at the University of North Carolina's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and senior research fellow at the School of Social Work's Jordan Institute for Families. "The commission, which is responsible for other discrimination laws as well, wasn't funded well enough in the first place, and when the ADA was passed, it got no additional resources."

Moss said that the EEOC has done a good job at determining which complaints are the most crucial to deal with. The problem is that those are typically the only cases the agency handles.

"What they do with these medium priority charges usually is to send a pro forma letter to an employer saying there has been a charge and to ask the employer to respond to various points," Moss said. "Then, more often than not, they take the word of the employer without a follow-up investigation."