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ADA Compliance Critical as EEOC Charges Hit Record Highs


ADA Compliance Critical as EEOC Charges Hit Record HighsEmployers Taking Measures to be ADA-Compliant

The Americans Disability Act (ADA) of 1990 was enacted to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. Then in 2009, under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), the term “disability” was broadened, making it easier for individuals to establish a medical condition and receive protection under federal law. The law defines a person as disabled if he or she:

  • has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • has a record of such an impairment
  • is regarded as having such an impairment

Since the amended legislation, the number of ADA charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has hit record highs in 2010 and 2011, as have monetary benefits. In fact, the agency’s ADA enforcement produced the highest increase in monetary relief among all of its statutes: the administrative relief obtained for disability discrimination charges increased by almost 35.9% to $103.4 million compared to $76.1 million in the previous fiscal year. Back impairments were the most frequently cited impairment under the ADA, followed by other orthopedic impairments, depression, anxiety disorder and diabetes.

How do you stay compliant under the law? As an employer, you must try to accommodate an individual to ensure his or her right to equal employment opportunities. What does that mean? Among other requirements, the ADA mandates that an employer determine: whether an employee’s accommodation request is reasonable; if accommodations can be provided without undue hardship; and if there are other effective accommodations that should be considered. It’s recommended that employers take a consistent, individual approach for each case, including defining the job function and identifying along with the employee exactly what limits may be imposed by the disability. Also, confer with the employee about any possible accommodations that may help him or her overcome the determined job-related limitations. Then choose the accommodation most appropriate for both you and the employee.

In addition to working with your employees to ensure equal employment opportunities, be sure you implement robust ADA accommodation policies to help prevent potential litigation. Review your policies and procedures along with your employee handbook to ensure that it includes the ADA definition of disability and that it explains each party’s role in reasonable accommodation. Also, implement management and supervisor training on ADA regulations so that they know how to respond appropriately to accommodation requests. If your firm is large enough, assign an employee proficient in ADA/ADAAA regulation to administer employees’ accommodation requests. And, as always, document all requests, keeping accurate records of events and actions to reflect that you have taken steps to accommodate an employee’s request.

Sources: EEOC, ADA, Hartford

Axis Insurance Services, LLC is a leading professional and management liability insurance specialist, and offers employers Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) coverage, including to large corporations and small businesses. Give us a call at (877) 787-5258 to discuss our insurance programs.

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Blogged on: September 24, 2013 by Mike Smith
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