Breaking news! Matrix’s new experience data provides the first clear snapshot of employers' ADA exposure

by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Senior Compliance Consultant and Legal Counsel

July 13, 2016


I am proud to announce that Matrix has unveiled the first credible benchmarking and data analysis of employer experiences related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The data is important for three reasons:

  • As a way to benchmark the experience of specific employers who manage ADA leave and accommodation requests
  • As a means of assessing the potential exposure of those who don’t
  • As an illustration of the reach of ADA, including the expansive Amendment Act (ADAAA) of 2008.

“Matrix is unique in the market with comprehensive, statistically validated data and the expertise to recommend policy and practice,” Ken Cope, president of Matrix, said. “While ADA compliance is among the fastest growing concerns of employers across the board, there is precious little objective information and guidance on how to navigate the legal, operational and productivity implications. Our early leadership has created the industry’s first body of knowledge from which employers can anticipate, model and improve their organizations’ management of ADA issues.”

The statistical analysis is based on a review of more than 4,300 accommodation requests collected over a time period of at least 12 months from employers representing a universe of 120,000 employees. Matrix will continue to expand this data as we manage ADA accommodations for our ever-increasing slate of clients over time.

“A-hah!” findings Previous Matrix research revealed two of three responding employers did not even track ADA accommodation requests. The new data underscores not only the status of ADA compliance, but the scope of the challenge itself.

Some of the insights provided by the new Matrix benchmark analysis include:

  • Accommodation request incidence per 100 employees, by age, gender and work status (e.g. exempt or non-exempt)
  • Accommodation request types, leave vs workplace accommodations
  • Accommodation request outcomes
  • Correlation with other types of employee absences, e.g. FMLA, workers’ compensation, disability

According to Cope, one of the most valuable things we learned is that employee disability incidence is consistently being understated. Statistics show that approximately one in five individuals have a “disability” covered by the ADA – but employer experience showed far fewer employees requesting workplace accommodations.  Without a good system to receive accommodation requests and manage the interactive process, employers are overlooking many employees with disabilities and inviting the scrutiny of the ADA enforcement watchdog, the EEOC. In addition, fully half – 52 percent – of all accommodation requests are unrelated to employee leave, meaning any platform or management approach that addresses only leaves is missing the boat, and potentially doing more harm than good.

During the relatively short time data has been collected and analyzed, a key metric has changed, according to Cope: “In the very beginning we counted accommodation requests as the primary indicator of volume and organizational impact,” he said. “We quickly found out a more meaningful metric is ‘events,’ the precipitating cause of an accommodation, which often results in multiple requests, both leave and workplace-related. This was an early ‘a-hah!” moment,’” he said.

Highlights of the Matrix analysis and copies of the company’s whitepaper, ADA Accommodation Data: An Inaugural Benchmark Analysis, will be available at the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) annual conference in New Orleans July 18-21.