Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook

An overview and resource handbook about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
for employers and their HR professionals

Using this handbook

Unum: Your benefits partner

As the leading provider of group disability benefits in the U.S. for 39 years,1 we understand how the complexities of disability laws can challenge even the savviest HR expert. And for many employers, managing applicants and employees appropriately under the many disability laws and concepts can be very difficult.

We hope you'll find this handbook to be a helpful reference tool. It's part of our commitment to help you get the most from your benefits programs so you can build a stronger workforce, and ultimately, a stronger business.

Introduction to the ADA - How to use this handbook

Did you know that, for fiscal year 2014, there were 25,369 disability discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)? That is fully 28.6% of the total number of EEOC charges filed in 2014, the biggest jump in any category.2

That same year, the EEOC recovered more than $95.6 million from charges brought by those claiming disability discrimination. This figure does not include monetary benefits obtained through litigation.3

Today, providing a level playing field for disabled individuals in the employment context not only makes sense, it is the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation.

Since the ADA was passed in 1990, the courts have provided some guidance on its terms. In reaction to the way the courts were interpreting the ADA, Congress redefined many of those terms in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which became effective January 1, 2009. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued regulations effective May 24, 2011 which further clarified employer obligations under the ADA. It will be important for you to understand how the ADA and the new regulations work together so you can help your business stay in compliance.

At Unum, we have extensive experience with disability and offer our ADA services for employers wishing to partner with a knowledgeable vendor on its ADA issues. We are committed to assisting employees with disabilities to maximize their opportunities to participate in the workforce. We have prepared this handbook to help you understand and comply with ADA requirements so that your business will benefit by including people of all abilities.

This handbook is not intended to be a definitive document about issues relating to the ADA, nor does it constitute legal advice. Instead, we have outlined a conceptual framework to help you appreciate how the law integrates with the way you do business. We encourage you to consult your own attorney about your responsibilities under the ADA and other relevant legislation when deciding how to proceed with an applicant or employee who may be disabled.

1 Employee Benefit Plan Review, "Group Accident & Health Surveys 1976-1990" (1977-1991); Gen Re, "U.S. Group Disability Market Surveys 1991-2013" (1992-2014); LIMRA, "U.S. Group Disability Insurance 2014 Annual Sales and In Force" (2015).
2,3 U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, "ADA charge data: Monetary benefits — FY 1997 – FY 2014" (accessed Sept. 24, 2015).