We’re back with another informational blog post! This week, we are taking a look at the Americans with Disabilities Act and what it means for Massachusetts workers compensation. First, let’s get to know what this Act is.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities that are like those provided to individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.”
In this case, we are discussing it in terms of employment and workers compensation benefits.
It is important to realize first that you MAY NOT look into an applicant’s workers compensation history until you have made an official offer of employment. Once you have made the offer, you are okay to do so! You may ask about their workers comp history in a medical inquiry or even an examination (as long as it is a requirement for all applicants in the same position.)
An injured worker may or may not be protected by the ADA. This entirely depends on whether or not the individual meets the ADA definition of “an individual with disability” and “qualified individual with a disability.” Yes, an individual MAY BE given workers comp benefits or even assigned a high disability rating, but this does NOT mean he or she is protected by the ADA.
It is also important to note that even if an individual files a workers comp claim, he or she can still file a charge under the ADA. There is nothing that prohibits a qualified individual with a disability from filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). He or she can even file a suit under the ADA if they are granted a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC. With that being said…
As an employer, it is important that you always remember that it is ILLEGAL to discriminate against individuals with a disability. If you have any other questions concerning the Americans with Disability Act, do not hesitate to head over to the official EEOC website. You can even ask our agents at Wolpert Insurance! We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.