The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


EEOC Reaches Ground Breaking ADA Settlement For Discrimination In Long Term Mental Health Benefits

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today a ground breaking settlement of agency litigation against Israel Discount Bank (IDB) of New York under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit charged IDB with engaging in disability-based discrimination by offering a long term disability (LTD) policy, insured by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, that limits benefits for individuals with mental conditions to 24 months but continues benefits for individuals with physical conditions up to age 65. The settlement was approved yesterday by a federal district court judge in White Plains, New York.

EEOC intervened in the lawsuit originally filed by Leonard F. -- a pseudonym for a former IDB employee suffering from severe depression. Under the provisions of the agreement, IDB will adopt an LTD "parity" policy which provides the same benefits to individuals with mental conditions as with physical conditions. IDB does not admit liability under the settlement, which resolves Leonard F.'s claim for damages and other relief.

"This settlement will go a long way toward ensuring that individuals with mental disabilities are treated the same as individuals with physical disabilities in employer-provided LTD insurance plans," said EEOC Chairman Paul M. Igasaki. "EEOC calls upon all employers providing LTD policies to adopt parity policies that treat mental conditions on a par with physical conditions. Such policies would only involve a small additional cost."

Igasaki added: "The Commission will continue to vigorously enforce the provisions of the ADA in order to eradicate workplace discrimination against persons with disabilities in accordance with the law."

The ADA covers all terms and conditions of employment for applicants and employees with disabilities, including employer benefit policies. Where an individual is qualified to participate in the employer benefits program, the EEOC believes these programs should be available to the individual without regard to disability consistent with the ADA's statutory requirements.

EEOC has filed similar ADA lawsuits against Chase Manhattan Bank and Staten Island Savings Bank of New York, and the Cigna Corporation and Insurance Company of North America. These suits are pending in federal district courts.

In addition to enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, and enforcing prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government, EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; and the Equal Pay Act.

This page was last modified on March 2, 1998.

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