The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has spawned a significant amount of litigation since it became effective almost four years ago. We believe that employers will find it helpful in their risk management efforts to know what disabilities and circumstances have given rise to the most litigation. But first, it is important to understand some fundamentals of the ADA. The basic principle of the ADA is that a qualified individual with a disability is entitled to protection from discrimination by an employer on the basis of the individual's disability. A qualified individual is entitled to such protection from the very moment the individual makes his or her first contact with an employer. Thus, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against employees in all aspects of the employment process, including application, testing, hiring, assignments, evaluation, disciplinary actions, training, promotion, medical examinations, layoff and recall, compensation, leave, benefits and termination. Any act or omission of an employer which discriminates against a qualified individual with a disability in regard to any of these employment processes may result in the employer being liable to the individual for damages. Since the ADA became effective, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has tracked the nature of the discrimination claims that have been filed. Employers are most often faced with discrimination claims following discharge, and the most common injury claimed by these employees is a back injury. Although the EEOC does not track whether such injuries are work related, most observers believe that they are. Thus, those employees who suffer work-related back injuries and who are subsequently discharged, for whatever reason, pose the greatest risk of bringing a claim against you under the ADA.