Employees suffering from back troubles or depression, or who were regarded as disabled by their employers, got the largest total payouts in 2009 for disability discrimination charges filed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In its annual report to Congress, the EEOC reported that in fiscal year 2009 it filed 21,451 charges of disability discrimination, a 10 percent jump from the year before.
In round numbers, employers paid $68 million last year to resolve (without litigation) disability discrimination complaints to the EEOC--a 19 percent jump from the year before.
Nearly $11 million was paid by employers who adversely treated 528 employees across the country who were perceived by those employers to be disabled.
Another $7 million went to 479 employees who complained of discrimination because of back ailments. Five million dollars went to 265 workers with other orthopedic problems.
Discrimination based on psychological impairments also cost employers big bucks. There were cumulative payouts of $8 million for 204 employees with depression, $3 million for 140 people with anxiety disorders, $2 million for 137 people with manic depression, and nearly $4 million for 43 people with "other" psychological disorders.
Employers also doled out cash for discriminating against employees with cancer ($4 million), diabetes ($3 million), neurological impairments ($3 million), and heart conditions and cardiovascular impairments ($2 million).
This year the agency predicts a new category of discrimination will create substantial claims. The EEOC says it "conservatively" projects 1,000 charges of genetic discrimination in 2010 under the new Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008. Effective Nov. 1, 2009, the law prohibits public and private employers from using genetic information about individuals when making employment decisions. In 2009, genetic discrimination led to one settlement of $124, 437.