Magazine article Workforce

New EEOC Guidelines Affect ADA Handling

Magazine article Workforce

New EEOC Guidelines Affect ADA Handling

Article excerpt

The guidelines cover everything from leaves of absence to workers' comp exclusive-remedy provisions.

ate last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance on the interaction between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state workers' compensation laws. The new guidance touches a number of employment issues-not the least of which is its impact on the way employers administer light-duty or modified-duty programs.

Ron Andrykovitch, director at the law firm of Cohen & Grigsby, P.C. in Pittsburgh, offers straight talk on what you need to do to stay legal.

What's the main point of the new guidance?

The purpose is [for the EEOC] to provide its own enforcement guidance as to how it would deal with the issues for which the state workers' comp laws and the ADA interplay with each other. The notice attempts to answer some of the most common issues or questions that have come up recently.

One of its main impacts is on the use of light or modified duty; please explain. A lot of employers have had light-duty programs that have been administered just to get employees off the workers' comp rolls. In the past, many employers didn't offer those light-duty positions to employees who had disabilities that weren't work-related.

Was that a problem?

There has always been some concern about whether that violated the ADAwhether employers had to offer those light-duty positions to disabled employees under the ADA. The EEOC notice clarified that point and for the first time stated its position: Employers are required to offer light-duty positions to employees who are disabled and have injuries that aren't work-related.

What does that mean to employers?

Employers that maintain these programs just for workers' comp purposes are now going to have to consider whether they need to offer those light-duty positions to employees who are disabled for reasons not work-related. That change will impact a lot of employers.

Do these guidelines mean employers have to open up light-duty positions for those who qualify under the ADA? Employers aren't required to have light-duty programs. They're not required to create light-duty programs under the ADA. …

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