The cost of ADA mismanagement
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides important protections for people with disabilities. However, it’s not always simple for employers to understand how to apply those protections in the workplace. Guardian’s recent research found that even though the ADA has been in place for over 30 years, employers lack awareness of the law’s details and how best to comply. Seven in ten employers report that ensuring compliance with the ADA is a top challenge for their organization.1
Moreover, the average score on Guardian’s ADA fundamentals quiz was 74%, or a “C” on a standard grading scale. 1 The low scoring points to considerable knowledge gaps and the potential for employer liability.
The cost of fines for non-compliance
Private individuals can bring a lawsuit in court against an employer.
Employee lawsuits for possible claims of discrimination and failure to accommodate under the ADA can be costly to defend in terms of attorneys’ fees and costs and liability for potentially significant damages, including compensatory damages ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 depending on employer size (including future financial losses; emotional pain; suffering; inconvenience; mental anguish; loss of enjoyment of life; and other non-financial losses), plus potential significant amounts for punitive damages, back pay, front pay, and interest on these. Employee plaintiffs can also seek injunctive relief (for example, creating or revising policies, practices, or programs), and reinstatement of employment or promotion.
Discrimination investigations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can result in hefty fees and damages if the EEOC finds probable cause to support bringing a lawsuit against a charged employer. For example, a case against Walmart for violations of the ADA resulted in a damages verdict topping $125 million in 2021in favor of the EEOC.2
The cost of labor
Most workers with disabilities don’t need accommodations in order to perform their jobs.3 For those who do, the cost is usually minimal: 58% percent of accommodations require no additional cost to provide and the average one-time cost to implement an accommodation is $500.4 Implementing accommodations lets employers retain valuable and qualified employees and eliminates the costs associated with hiring and training a new employee.5
We can help
Guardian offers a variety of absence management solutions for companies with 50 to 5,000 employees or more, helping employers of all sizes take advantage of high quality, integrated services that can keep companies compliant while helping to get employees back to work in a safe and timely manner.