The Americans with Disabilities Act and Compensation
Suzette M. Jelinek, Ralph S. Foster Jr., and William I. Sauser Jr.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law during the Bush administration, has had a profound effect on virtually every employer in America ( Connell, 1990; Dietl, 1990; Peak, 1991; Stein, 1991). Over 40 million Americans will be covered under this "bill of rights" for the disabled ( Stein, 1991). This legislation will affect the way employers design policy regarding total compensation. Human resources management (HRM) specialists must adopt special considerations in their compensation strategies and policies to meet compliance with ADA or face possible litigation for unfair compensation practices.
Although the burden of compliance clearly falls on the employer, many of the act's mandates are vague ( Hein and VanZante, 1993). The length to which an employer will adopt changes may vary according to interpretation of the document ( Hummel, 1993). Issues such as reasonable accommodation and undue hardship make it difficult for an employer to assess realistically compliance responsibility ( Smith and Matthes, 1992). Regarding total compensation, employers and unions will have to make accommodations and allowances to include the disabled in the mainstream in a nondiscriminatory fashion ( Fletcher, 1993a). This chapter considers several compensation issues that deserve special consideration in the light of ADA: total compensation, base pay determinants, wage discrimination, overtime, pay for performance programs, and benefits. Many of the observations are speculative by necessity as there is a limited record of litigation under ADA to provide definitive guidance. The chapter concludes