August 2013
DMEC White Paper Series
2013 Leadership Series
How Accommodating Is Your RTW Program?
Employer Best Practices ...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
Welcome!
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affects virtual...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
2
Table of Contents
About the 2013 Leadership Series.................................
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
3
About the 2013 Leadership Series
The 2013 Disability Management Employer Coaliti...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
4
Executive Summary
Evolving and changing ADA regulations and the final rules expa...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
5
The Challenges and Importance of ADA Accommodations for RTW Success
Background
L...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
6
But there is a lack of concrete guidance from the EEOC on how much leave employe...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
7
In 2011, AHA embarked on Project Symphony. This program was designed to provide ...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
8
Exelon has a unique setup in that it is both centralized and decentralized. Gove...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
9
Pitney Bowes has on-site clinics that partner with their disability department; ...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
10
■		 A disability claims examiner
■		 A report from the absence management vendo...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
11
Sears concludes that it is unable to reasonably accommodate an associate (which...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
12
Some of the triggers that an employer can look for or that cause an employee to...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
13
employee and supervisor and clarifies what barriers need to be removed. An ADA ...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
14
Exelon’s Situations
Exelon often deals with accommodations upon a return from l...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
15
■		 Acquiring or modifying equipment
■		 Changing tests, training materials, or...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
16
Explore reasonable accommodations so that employees can continue to be producti...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
17
“If an employee has a
headache, let him wear
sunglasses; don’t bring
that to co...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
18
Best Practice 8: Consider Job Reassignment
Integrated into Sears’ interactive p...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
19
Best Practice 10: Document, Document, Document!
Documentation is vital. Documen...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
20
resources, and farsighted investment in energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE emp...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
21
Hilary Mitchell (Pitney Bowes, Inc.) is Director of Employee Health Absences at...
DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series
22 22
Abbreviations
ADA 	 Americans with Disabilities Act
AHA 	 Ascension Health A...
About Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC)
DMEC is a non-profit organization that provides educational resource...
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How Accommodating Is Your RTW Program? Employer Best Practices in ADA Accommodations

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Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affects virtually every return-to-work (RTW) initiative offered by employers. Evolving and changing regulations make compliant workplace accommodation programs paramount. The 2013 Leadership Series focused on the importance of workplace accommodations as well as recognition and use of an interactive process between employers, employees, and carriers in maintaining compliant RTW programs.

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How Accommodating Is Your RTW Program? Employer Best Practices in ADA Accommodations

  1. 1. August 2013 DMEC White Paper Series 2013 Leadership Series How Accommodating Is Your RTW Program? Employer Best Practices in ADA Accommodations Copyright © 2013 DMEC. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series Welcome! Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affects virtually every return-to-work (RTW) initiative offered by employers. Evolving and changing regulations make compliant workplace accommodation programs paramount. The 2013 Leadership Series focused on the importance of workplace accommodations as well as recognition and use of an interactive process between employers, employees, and carriers in maintaining compliant RTW programs. Leadership Series panelists identified best practices for incorporating ADA regulations into their absence management programs, including: ■ Having a centralized process uniformly applied across all locations and employees ■ Understanding the interactive process and using it ■ Providing ongoing training and education to all involved, particularly managers and supervisors ■ Documenting all employee interactions associated with ADA requests ■ Consulting with counsel before considering termination This year’s Leadership Series represents the ninth year of collaboration between Liberty Mutual Insurance Group Benefits and the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). We brought together industry leaders with direct exposure to and experience with ADA compliance and return-to-work issues. Both the live presentation in Schaumberg, Illinois, and the webinar generated a stimulating exchange of ideas on program design and implementation from an audience of human resources, benefits, and legal professionals who spanned a broad spectrum of industries. This white paper distills the presentations and discussions with best practices that employers of all sizes can reference in reviewing the compliance of their own RTW programs. We hope it will be helpful and interesting to you and your colleagues. For further information about Liberty Mutual Insurance Group Benefits, please visit www.libertymutualgroup.com/lmgroupbenefits. To learn more about DMEC, please visit www.dmec.org. 1 Charles M. Fox President and CEO Disability Management Employer Coalition Heather Luiz, CPDM Director, Product Management Liberty Mutual Insurance Group Benefits
  3. 3. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 2 Table of Contents About the 2013 Leadership Series......................................................................................................3 Leadership Series Sessions and Participants.........................................................................................3 Executive Summary............................................................................................................................4 The Challenges and Importance of ADA Accommodations for RTW Success....................................5 Background...................................................................................................................................5 Challenges.....................................................................................................................................5 Importance....................................................................................................................................6 Best Practice 1: Centralized Process Is Key..........................................................................................6 Best Practice 2: Clearly Defined Processes..........................................................................................9 Leave Extensions..........................................................................................................................10 Unable to Accommodate..............................................................................................................11 Best Practice 3: Individualized Interactive Process.............................................................................11 A Five-Step Process......................................................................................................................11 Exelon’s Situations.......................................................................................................................14 Ascension Health Alliance’s Four-Step Process.............................................................................14 Job Modification..........................................................................................................................14 Unpaid Leave...............................................................................................................................15 Best Practice 4: Communication......................................................................................................15 Best Practice 5: Regular and Ongoing Training/Education...............................................................16 Best Practice 6: Simple, Easy, Quick.................................................................................................17 Best Practice 7: Consult with Legal..................................................................................................17 Best Practice 8: Consider Job Reassignment.....................................................................................18 Best Practice 9: Watch Your Timing.................................................................................................18 Best Practice 10: Document, Document, Document!.......................................................................19 Presenting Employers and Participants.............................................................................................19 Employer Summaries...................................................................................................................19 Panel Member Biographies...........................................................................................................20 Abbreviations...................................................................................................................................22 Copyright © 2013 DMEC. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 3 About the 2013 Leadership Series The 2013 Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) Leadership Series, sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance for the ninth consecutive year, addressed industry-wide best practices in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations. This series focused on the importance of workplace accommodations as well as the interactive process between employers, employees, and carriers in implementing successful and compliant return-to-work (RTW) programs. Presenters from a variety of organizations—ranging from health care to utilities, and Fortune 500 to smaller entities—convened to share their insights and experiences with attendees at two separate events. The in-person, employer-only workshop took place in Schaumburg, Illinois, on March 19, 2013, drawing together 50 employers for lunch and learning. This was followed by a webinar roundtable held on May 9, 2013, attended by 200 employer representatives. Panelists discussed RTW program best practices incorporating ADA regulations into their absence management and RTW programs, managing the interactive process, and how they utilize vendors and internal resources to assist in the process. During each presentation, attendees were encouraged to ask questions and share both the frustrations and successes of their own experiences in their respective corporate environments. As a result of these two events, more than 250 employers learned how to better accommodate employees to achieve successful returns to work. Leadership Series Sessions and Participants (See page 19 for more detailed information about each of the presenters and their respective employers.) In-Person Panelists—March 19, 2013 ■ Suzann Bylund, RN, CPDM, Senior Director, Associate Risk Management Program, Ascension Health Alliance ■ Sara Elder, Divisional Vice President, Fair Employment and Compliance, Sears Holdings Management Corporation ■ Barb Stevens, MA, Director, Occupational Health and Regulatory Medical Services, Exelon Business Services Company ■ Corinne Wendell, Assistant General Counsel, Labor and Employment, Exelon Business Services Company Webinar Panelists—May 9, 2013 ■ Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves and Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy ■ Michael Moses, ADA Disability Case Manager, Kaiser Permanente NW Region ■ Hilary Mitchell, BSN, MS, MBA, Director, Employee Health Absences, Pitney Bowes, Inc. Terri L. Rhodes, MBA, CPDM, CCMP, Executive Director for DMEC, facilitated both events. Special thanks to Heather Luiz, Director, Product Management, at Liberty Mutual Insurance, for representing the sponsoring organization and welcoming guests to both of these events. Heather is a CPDM and a certified ADA administrator. She pointed out the relevancy of this topic and encouraged all attendees to ask questions and share their own employer ADA return-to-work best practices. This paper outlines the best practices as determined by the presenters and attendees of both 2013 DMEC Leadership Series sessions.
  5. 5. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 4 Executive Summary Evolving and changing ADA regulations and the final rules expanding the definition of “disability” by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the ADA, make compliant workplace accommodation programs paramount. In the absence of clear legal precedents, employers are forced to individually interpret regulations. This Leadership Series focused on the importance of workplace accommodations and the interactive process between employers and employees in implementing successful and compliant RTW programs. Panelists discussed best practices incorporating ADA requirements into their absence management and RTW programs, managing the interactive process, and how they utilize vendors and internal resources to assist in the process. Sara Elder, Divisional Vice President, Fair Employment and Compliance, for Sears Holdings Management Corporation, presented a case study based on the EEOC’s pursuit of Sears Roebuck and Co. in a “pattern and practice” case. She described the practices Sears implemented during the course of the consent decree that resolved the litigation, their centralized model, and how that model has evolved over time. The important lessons and best practices the 2013 Leadership Series participants have identified as a result of many years of trying to navigate the challenges of ADA return to work are identified and expounded upon in the body of this paper and include: ■ Have a centralized process for employees requesting an accommodation. ■ Have clearly defined processes for each step during the accommodation process. ■ Individualize the interactive process to each employee’s disability and relevant circumstances. ■ Regular and continued communication at all levels is key. ■ Regular and ongoing training and education of all involved aid in the process. ■ Enable lower levels of management to implement “simple, easy, quick” accommodations. ■ Before terminating an employee, consult with counsel or a trained human resources representative. ■ Provide a means to identify and document an employee’s reassignment interests, as applicable. ■ Timing is critical as far as communication and implementation. ■ Document everything that happens throughout the process. All presenters found that a centralized process with clearly defined practices and procedures that are followed by well-trained personnel at all organizational levels leads to an effective interactive process that provides RTW solutions or on-the-job modifications that protect the company and its employees while providing cost savings in productivity, benefits, and legal proceedings.
  6. 6. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 5 The Challenges and Importance of ADA Accommodations for RTW Success Background Landmark legislation in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26. The law’s intent was to provide equal opportunities for the disabled. The employment piece of the law, Title I, “requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all aspects of employment. Reasonable accommodation includes, for example, restructuring jobs, making work- sites and workstations accessible, modifying schedules, providing services such as interpreters, and modifying equipment and policies.”1 Effective January 1, 2009, the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) further clarified and broadened the definition of disability. More than 20 years later, implementation of the equal employment provisions of the ADAAA by the EEOC became effective as of March 25, 2011. Challenges While an employer’s goal may be to integrate the best possible ADA reasonable accommodation processes into their return-to-work (RTW) programs, oftentimes there is a lack of adequate resources to manage the accommodation process. Potential cost savings or the administrative convenience of contracting out may trump maintaining internal control of RTW program practices. It is a particular challenge for employers to decide what can be centralized and what can be handled at a local level while making sure that there is still control and consistency in the application of policy and processes. One presenter’s company had a nonintegrated model that was cumbersome and allowed for potential service gaps. Each department was a stand-alone unit, which made it hard to pull everyone together when an employee requested an accommodation through the ADA process. An accommodation request could originate at many different levels from: ■ The case manager in the workers’ compensation department ■ Either of two leave case managers ■ A non-work-related case manager ■ An ADA coordinator ■ The human resources (HR) consultant ■ A manager or supervisor ■ A union representative Accommodation requests could arise at any time during the leave process, during the workers’ compensation process, or with someone with a temporary work restriction whose medical condition was not improving so that the employee needed to start the ADA interactive process. Because of concerns about the disparate approaches to ADA accommodation requests, that company chose to move to an integrated disability model. Terri Rhodes, Executive Director of the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), observed, “Employers want to do the right thing while not creating undue business hardships.” —————————— 1 Job Accommodation Network. (2012, July 26). The Americans with Disabilities Act: A brief overview. Retrieved from http://askjan.org/links/adasummary.htm
  7. 7. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 6 But there is a lack of concrete guidance from the EEOC on how much leave employers should provide as a reasonable accommodation. So as companies try to navigate the daunting and complex issues of following the law, one way to learn is by looking at how the EEOC has ruled against large corporations. For example, within the past five years, organizations such as Verizon, United Airlines, and Sears have incurred significant fines or other penalties for allegedly terminating disabled employees before offering extended leaves of absence or worksite accommodations in accordance with ADA regulations. Settlements ranged from $850,000 to $20 million2—significant amounts for any employer. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, is “the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues” and “helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.”3 JAN fields more than 45,000 contacts per year,4 mostly related to job accommodations—clearly indicating that businesses are seeking and need more guidance in this area. Importance It can be very costly not to follow ADA regulations. During 20 years of enforcement, many companies have paid the price for what they didn’t do. Employers have incurred substantial litigation fees and fines, and have been mandated to perform additional work required by EEOC findings, including having to amend policies, offer training, improve documentation, etc. With total monetary penalties of $44.2 million awarded by the EEOC for 2012—and $91 million awarded in 20115—compliance and clarity are of utmost importance. The overall challenge for employers is to determine best practice methods to best serve their employees while positively affecting the company through increased compliance and ultimately increased workforce productivity. Best Practice 1: Centralized Process Is Key A centralized process is key to managing accommodations to achieve the best outcome from a consistency and compliance standpoint. The following presenters shared their centralization designs. A centralized model for Ascension Health Alliance (AHA) has helped them look at each ADA request on a case-by-case basis. Slimming down from 61 short-term disability (STD) and 72 long-term disability (LTD) plan designs, in 2000, AHA integrated workers’ compensation, STD, and LTD into a dedicated unit with a third-party administrator (TPA) and incorporated Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave administration soon afterward. Because 55 percent of their employees are female, their number-one type of STD claim is pregnancy, with musculoskeletal a close second. Knowing this information helped them design their programs and processes. RTW is system-wide for occupational and nonoccupational injuries and illnesses, with slight nuances in process among hospitals. —————————— 2 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Twenty Years of ADA Enforcement, Twenty Significant Cases. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/45th/ada20/ada_cases.cfm & U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. (2011, July 6). Verizon to Pay $20 Million to Settle Nationwide EEOC Disability Suit [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/7-6-11a.cfm 3 Job Accommodation Network. (n.d.). About JAN. Retrieved from http://askjan.org/links/about.htm 4 Cordingly, K. (2013, April 2). JAN blog: What works for me? [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://askjan.org/ blog/?cat=43 5 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). EEOC litigation statistics, FY 1997 through FY 2012. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/litigation.cfm
  8. 8. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 7 In 2011, AHA embarked on Project Symphony. This program was designed to provide a common HRIS platform, standardizing processes for HR benefits and payroll. The Ministry Service Center, which is located in Indianapolis, includes a central location for oversight of HR benefits, payroll, leave management, FMLA, STD (moved from TPA), and ADA. The reasonable accommodation process starts with the employee submitting a request through the call center. The request is then sent to occupational health and HR at the Local Health Ministry, where they begin the interactive process. The processes are designed to keep managers, HR, occupational health, and the employee informed of the status of the request. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has a centralized HR department located in the same building, on the same floor, and with an open-door policy. All leaves and accommodation programs are outsourced and integrated, promoting stay at work (SAW) and RTW. Outsourced vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) are integrated with their other programs. In RTW cases, a VRC meets once a month with the absence/disability administrator at the absence management company to discuss cases in which there is overlap. There is reporting from the absence management company to the VRC firm. The VRCs also work directly with the health care provider to obtain updated medical information and medical restrictions that are being placed on the employee. In addition, the VRCs work with the workers’ compensation TPA. Job modifications and SAW and RTW services are provided for both workers’ compensation and STD/LTD cases by the same vocational rehabilitation firm. When warranted or seen as beneficial, the VRCs do “warm transfers,” meaning that the VRC informs the employee about the services available through the employee assistance program (EAP) and then puts the employee on the phone with the EAP to initiate those services. A nurse case manager works on the more complex cases with the VRC to facilitate RTW. PSE uses two chair vendors quite frequently, because many of their accommodations are ergonomic in nature and involve purchasing an ergonomic chair that fits the employee. VRCs work directly with those vendors to identify the appropriate chair, provide a loaner opportunity so that the employee can try out the chair, and then coordinate purchase. Finally, PSE is fortunate that one of the health plans they have has case managers on-site at their medical offices, and those case managers, who have traditionally worked on only occupational injuries with PSE, also work with nonoccupational teams as well, helping coordinate receipt of paperwork by the VRCs and RTW planning. VRCs are also internally integrated. They not only work with the employees and management in the interactive process to identify accommodations, but they also work directly with the HR department. Also, because PSE’s safety department does preventive ergonomics and the VRCs do ergonomics for medical issues, there is a lot of overlap between safety and VRCs in serving employees to prevent medical issues before they arise. Ergonomic issues are coordinated between the two groups. The safety and HR departments partner to provide samples of the most frequently recommended ergonomic mice, keyboards, chairs, and other items for trial use before purchase. The IT department provides customer service help desk support for the ergonomic mice and keyboards. The person who does the coordination of purchase of those IT items works directly with the VRC to make sure that the correct items are purchased in a timely manner. Also, the VRCs work with the facilities department because many accommodations provided by PSE are for office ergonomics involving changes such as desk height adjustments or cubicle alterations. In addition, the VRCs work with the fleet department with those employees who spend a lot of time on the road to make sure that their vehicles suit them and are not aggravating any disability.
  9. 9. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 8 Exelon has a unique setup in that it is both centralized and decentralized. Governance and oversight for all of the leave plans come from a corporate level through Occupational Health Services (OHS). OHS nurses are embedded in each of Exelon’s operating companies, such as Commonwealth Edison, Exelon Generation Company, etc., and take responsibility for medical management of disability absences at their respective sites. Processes for managing the ADA interactive process are created and overseen at a corporate level but are implemented at a local level by HR professionals who are embedded within the operating companies. The vast majority of Exelon’s leave of absence program is currently managed in-house rather than outsourced to TPAs. So, from day one of absence, the employee talks to the occupational health staff. This includes FMLA and STD. STD leaves of absence are managed locally by OHS nurses at the sites, while FMLA (non-STD qualifying and intermittent) are managed at a centralized level by occupational health FMLA coordinators. A variety of factors make disability management and the interactive process at Exelon interesting and unique: It has some complex benefits programs, much of the workforce is unionized, it employs many employees in very physical jobs, and many of those positions are governed by federal regulations. For example, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission mandates that nuclear licensed operators be medically qualified to manipulate the controls of a nuclear reactor and that nuclear security officers be medically qualified to carry a weapon. Although their processes are very much in line with the other presenters, Pitney Bowes stands out in that they do not outsource FMLA, STD/LTD, or ADA. They manage all of the absences and related processes internally. With a disability department that consists of registered nurses, claims examiners, and physician consultants, they now handle STD/LTD, FMLA, and ADA and have workers’ compensation oversight. The only vendor they partner with is a workers’ compensation TPA.         Sears  has  centralized  its  leave  and  accommodation  management  processes  for  most  of  the  Sears   Holdings  Corporation  (SHC)  businesses.       Essentially  all  leaves  are  managed  by  a  centralized  leave  management  team.  Sears  has  only  outsourced   the  intake  piece  and  administrative-­‐related  calls.  Cases  and  complex  or  policy-­‐related  questions  are  then   escalated  to  a  team  of  associates  who  manage  leaves  end-­‐to-­‐end,  as  well  as  RTW  and  leave-­‐related   Figure 1. Integrated Healthcare Model at Pitney Bowes
  10. 10. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 9 Pitney Bowes has on-site clinics that partner with their disability department; the clinics partner with workers’ compensation, which partners with the disability department. They also have a Prevention of Critical Incident Team, which handles employees whose managers deem their behavior “concerning.” (This team would be involved in assessing whether the employee needed a mental health claim, etc.) Travel medicine programs touch all areas at Pitney Bowes. Clinics prepare employees for traveling around the world, and if an employee should become ill or injured while out of the country, the disability department and workers’ compensation step in. Under the Total Rewards Group, Pitney Bowes offers health planning, which is benefits design, vendor sourcing, and funding/underwriting. Their health plan provider is also a key partner. For instance, if an employee is out on disability for what appears to be a lack of managing her diabetes, the disability department will educate the employee on what diabetes programs are available through their health plan. So although they are an internal department, they use their external business partners. Sears has centralized its leave and accommodation management processes for most of the Sears Holdings Corporation (SHC) businesses. Essentially all leaves are managed by a centralized leave management team. Sears has outsourced only the intake piece and administrative-related calls. Cases and complex or policy-related questions are then escalated to a team of associates who manage leaves end to end, as well as RTW and leave-related accommodations. That same team also assists with non-leave accommodations. Third-party administrators still manage workers’ compensation and STD/SDI approvals, but the centralized team has developed good synergy with both TPAs. Best Practice 2: Clearly Defined Processes Clearly defined processes make everyone’s job easier and allow for straightforward training of all involved. Corinne Wendell, Assistant General Counsel, Labor and Employment, at Exelon, stated: “The first and key element is having a detailed reasonable accommodations and disability policy that (1) emphasizes your commitment to offering reasonable accommodations that will get people performing the essential functions of their jobs, (2) lays out the process of reassignment when that is necessary, and (3) assigns responsibility as far as who does what in the interactive process. Then you need to make sure that the policy is widely publicized so that everyone is on the same page.” If a company ever finds itself involved in an EEOC investigation, it will need to carefully describe the company’s processes. Policies must be written in clear language that will withstand scrutiny. With a strong focus on stay at work (SAW), the VRCs at Puget Sound Energy can receive direct referrals from: ■ The employee ■ The supervisor ■ Human resources ■ The workers’ compensation claims examiner
  11. 11. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 10 ■ A disability claims examiner ■ A report from the absence management vendor documenting who is running out of FMLA and who is not eligible for FMLA, so that they can initiate referrals or leaves as a reasonable accommodation When employees call the absence management vendor, they hear the following recording: “Puget Sound Energy offers programs to help employees with medical limitations continue working and earning 100 percent. If you believe you can continue working in a limited capacity and would like to be transferred to Puget Sound Vocational Services for more information, press 1.” What the employees hear from their supervisors is “We can accommodate you. You can continue working and earning 100 percent.” On the contrary, if a supervisor’s first response to an employee’s medical condition is for him to go off on disability or workers’ compensation, that isn’t supporting the concept of reasonably accommodating the employee so that he can be at work and be productive. In its communications with employees on leave or with those needing accommodations, Sears states its expectations and identifies key process steps. These include requesting that employees reach out to HR or the centralized leave management team if they need a reasonable accommodation to return to work, identifying examples of potential reasonable accommodations, and stating applicable timelines and what the employee needs to do to seek an extension or to obtain answers to questions. During the leave process, employees are also advised that they can contact the centralized leave team regarding a need for a reasonable accommodation that will enable them to return to work at any time during their leave of absence. Sears’ process includes providing user-friendly forms and looking broadly for open positions that may be able to accommodate an employee who cannot return to his previous position. Finally, Sears’ attendance management processes include taking into account the need to excuse absences protected by law, including the ADA. Leave Extensions When asked during the webinar, 90 percent of participants said that their companies have a process in place for reviewing a leave extension as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA when employees run out of FMLA for their own serious health condition but the employees need additional time off. The VRC vendor at Puget Sound Energy uses the absence report (stating who is ineligible and who is running out of FMLA) received from their absence management vendor to generate letters to employees explaining what it means to have job protection and that leave as a reasonable accommodation is an option the employee can explore with the VRC. If the employee connects with the VRC, the company determines on a case-by-case basis whether the duration of the employee’s leave is something it can accommodate, given the current business needs. Sears communicates at various intervals before a leave ends, with a communication that generally advises the employee that his leave is ending and whom to contact if he needs a reasonable accommodation to return to work. The number of leave extensions Sears allows is generally based on the applicable individual facts and circumstances. Sears follows EEOC guidance that when an associate’s return is indefinite, termination can be considered a reasonable response. In general, if Determining how much leave is appropriate under the ADA is an individual analysis. There is no “one size fits all.”
  12. 12. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 11 Sears concludes that it is unable to reasonably accommodate an associate (which includes being unable to reassign the employee to a job that meets the associate’s restrictions, that the associate is qualified for, and that the associate will take), it will confirm its conclusion, allow the associate the opportunity to respond to its conclusion (if the associate has not previously had time to respond), and proceed with termination. Sears may modify steps as necessary based on individual facts and circumstances and will proceed in a manner to comply with applicable legal requirements. Unable to Accommodate In the event that Puget Sound Energy is not able to accommodate, the VRC provides a worksheet for the employee’s manager to review with HR, which gives the manager and/or supervisor the opportunity to articulate why they believe they cannot accommodate the individual (e.g., undue hardship, direct threat). The legal department may be involved in the review. If it is determined that no reasonable accommodation is possible, presently Puget Sound Energy offers 12 months of job reassignment services. The hiring manager, the VRC, the HR department, and the employee work together to reassign the employee to a vacant position within the company. Best Practice 3: Individualized Interactive Process The interactive process is an ongoing dialogue with the employee. It is not a one-way communication from employer to employee but rather interaction that allows for communication both ways. Although such dialogue is not explicitly required by the EEOC, it is highly recommended as “a way for employers to show that they are making a good-faith effort to comply with the ADA.”6 The EEOC has hinted that an employee out on leave, by virtue of being on leave, has initiated the interactive process. As a rule, the individual with the disability—who has the most knowledge about the need for a reasonable accommodation—must inform the employer that an accommodation is needed. There are certain exceptions when the employer is expected to initiate the conversation, such as when the employer knows the employee has a disability, the employer knows or has reason to know that the employee is experiencing workplace problems because of a disability, and the employer knows or has reason to know that the disability prevents the employee from requesting accommodations. Clearly the responsibility is on the employee, or there has to be something preventing the employee from asking. A Five-Step Process One presenter uses a five-step process that is similar to the Job Accommodation Network’s (JAN’s) interactive process (see Figure 2): 1. Define the situation. 2. Perform a needs assessment. 3. Explore alternative placement options. 4. Redefine the situation. 5. Monitor accommodations. —————————— 6 JAN. (2011). Effective Accommodation Practices (EAP) Series: The Interactive Process. Morgantown, WV: ODEP. Retrieved from http://askjan.org/topics/interactive.htm p. 2
  13. 13. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 12 Some of the triggers that an employer can look for or that cause an employee to reach out and thereby initiate the interactive process include: ■ The employee is unable to perform all or parts of his job. ■ A behavioral or physical medical condition presents itself. ■ The manager receives a doctor’s note from the employee. ■ A manager notices a change in performance and/or attendance. ■ A disability or medical condition may be revealed in the course of corrective action being taken by the HR consultant. ■ A union representative may call with a request for the disability case manager to reach out to an employee who is having trouble with her job. ■ Receipt of a letter received from a TPA during a leave of absence that directs the employee to call a specific number if he feels he needs an accommodation or has questions about the ADA. There may be many different interactive process pathways—many different avenues for identifying needs and for the interactive process to occur—however, for one employer the interactive process always includes the case manager. Managers, HR consultants, and unions know that no decisions for accommodation are to be made without the involvement of a case manager. (See also Best Practice 6.) At this same company, defining the situation includes contacting the employee to start an individualized assessment per the person’s accommodation request. A case manager meets with the 14       Some  of  the  triggers  that  an  employer  can  look  for  or  that  cause  an  employee  to  reach  out  and  thereby   initiate  the  interactive  process  include:     ¥ The  employee  is  unable  to  perform  all  or  parts  of  his  job.   ¥ A  behavioral  or  physical  medical  condition  presents  itself.   ¥ The  manager  receives  a  doctor’s  note  from  the  employee.   ¥ A  manager  notices  a  change  in  performance  and/or  attendance.   ¥ A  disability  or  medical  condition  may  be  revealed  in  the  course  of  corrective  action  being  taken   by  the  HR  consultant.   ¥ A  union  representative  may  call  with  a  request  for  the  disability  case  manager  to  reach  out  to  an   employee  who  is  having  trouble  with  her  job.   ¥ Receipt  of  a  letter  received  from  a  TPA  during  a  leave  of  absence  that  directs  the  employee  to   call  a  specific  number  if  he  feels  he  needs  an  accommodation  or  has  questions  about  the  ADA.     Figure 2. The Interactive Process
  14. 14. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 13 employee and supervisor and clarifies what barriers need to be removed. An ADA Certification Form is then given to the employee’s doctor, which asks the doctor to identify work restrictions, and then follow-up meetings are scheduled as necessary. In speaking with the employee, the case manager will first listen, and then if it is not apparent what the employee wants, the case manager will ask directly, “What is it that you want?” The ADA interactive process will be explained to the employee, and then the case manager will say, “Given that information, tell me what you need in order to continue working.” It is important to remember not to offer too much; keep it as simple as possible. If the employee just wants a different desk or a different keyboard, provide what is needed. If later the employee requires something different, review that request on its own merits. If the employee isn’t sure of what he needs or if the impairment is not obvious, then seek clarification by performing a needs assessment. Determine if it is a chronic, long-term condition or if it is something that you expect may resolve itself. If it is something the employee has been dealing with for a long time, but now all of a sudden it is a problem, find out what has changed. Perhaps it is new working conditions, new performance standards, a new manager, or new coworkers the employee is not getting along with—or perhaps a combination of things. You may use an accommodation worksheet that allows the employee the opportunity to write down specifically what he wants. The employee may think that an accommodation is reasonable because she asked for it, so the employee has to be educated as to what “reasonable” means. It is important to state, “We cannot do it this way, but here are some things that we can do for you that we’d like you to consider.” Dialogue similar to this continues to engage the employee in the interactive process. In the event that the employee can work but cannot perform the essential functions of her current job, exploring alternative placement options is appropriate. This is when an online list of job opportunities within the company is helpful. The employee can be given access to the list to select something she feels she could do well. In an effort to redefine the situation, one company compiles an accommodation agreement that puts into writing what has been agreed upon in all meetings with the employee, the HR consultant, the supervisor, and the case manager. It delineates accommodations, goals, and dates and is sent to all parties involved. For example, the case manager can decide through the interactive process with the employee that they are going to modify the employee’s work schedule beginning on a specific date. Modifying the work schedule will allow the individual to perform the essential functions of his job. The accommodation will continue as long as there is no change in the person’s medical condition and/or the needs of the department. If either of those changes does occur, both parties come back to the accommodation process and start the interactive discussion again, asking, “What has changed?” It could be that the needs of the department have changed or everyone went from part time to full time in the department and they can no longer accommodate in the same way. Accommodations are monitored by periodically checking in with the employee to see how it is going and if it is working appropriately for him. Once you make an accommodation, you do not necessarily have to live with it forever. However, it cannot be stopped arbitrarily; it cannot be because the manager does not like it or other employees have concerns about it. It has to be based on a solid business need. There has to be a good reason why a change is being made.
  15. 15. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 14 Exelon’s Situations Exelon often deals with accommodations upon a return from leave or at leave expiration, as others have described, but also handles many accommodation issues during job qualification processes as mandated by federal regulation. At any stage of an employee’s employment, accommodation requests almost always come in through Occupational Health Services (OHS). If an employee presents medical restrictions that preclude him from performing some of the essential functions of the job, OHS involves the interactive process team, which is HR, line management, and, where necessary, labor relations (for union employees). In all instances, OHS confirms medical restrictions and ensures that there is appropriate documentation when making an accommodation. The HR generalist is responsible for working with management and/or supervisors to identify the essential functions of the position. When discussing the essential functions of a job, the team focuses on what needs to be accomplished as opposed to how it is performed. Once the essential functions that cannot be performed are identified, the team explores with the employee possible accommodations and then implements and monitors accommodations in much the same way others have described. In all cases, Exelon focuses on engaging in an interactive process that is unique to the employee, medical restriction, and job at hand. In situations where people are out on extended periods of leave, the interactive process team initiates contact with the employee, usually via letter, to determine whether the employee would like to engage in the interactive process well in advance of leave exhaustion. When the employee is approaching the exhaustion of an ordinary period of medical leave, that letter will notify the employee that reasonable accommodations will be granted to those who want to come back to work and are able to perform the essential functions of the job. If the employee believes that he will be able to return to work, he contacts OHS. At that point, they will work through the interactive process, whether that means returning the employee to his same job (with or without reasonable accommodations) or, when that is not possible, finding another position for him. Ascension Health Alliance’s Four-Step Process At Ascension Health Alliance, ADA has a four-step process. First, the associate brings the doctor’s information to the manager, and then the manager determines a caliber of risk (low, medium, or high). Occupational health initiates the interactive process and determines whether a “reasonable clinical change” is needed. Then the final decision is made by a committee consisting of the manager, HR, and a legal department representative. If the committee decides that they cannot reasonably accommodate, the HR director relays that message to the employee with the manager present. Job Modification There are a number of possible reasonable accommodations that an employer may have to provide in connection with modifications to the work environment or adjustments in how and when a job is performed. These include: ■ Making existing facilities accessible ■ Job restructuring ■ Part-time or modified work schedules
  16. 16. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 15 ■ Acquiring or modifying equipment ■ Changing tests, training materials, or policies ■ Providing qualified readers or interpreters ■ Reassignment to a vacant position When an accommodation case is opened for a Puget Sound Energy employee, the VRC obtains the restrictions and medical documentation so it is clear what limitations need accommodating, not just what the employee desires. Then the employee, VRC, and supervisor collaborate to identify job modifications that address both employee and business needs. The VRC documents the modifications and sends them to HR for final review. The VRC then checks in with the employee and supervisor to confirm that the accommodations are effective. For both SAW and returning with restrictions, Puget Sound Energy’s first priority is always reasonable accommodation. Are there job modifications the company can provide that will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job? If that is not possible, and the employee has time-limited, short-term restrictions, the company looks at restricted work, which is when the employee performs most of the essential functions but not the ones that he cannot perform while he’s in recovery. PSE also looks at alternative work when the employee cannot return to his position until his restrictions are lessened. Both restricted work and alternative work have set time limits at Puget Sound Energy. Having an established end date provides the employee with a rehabilitative goal to be capable of full duty (with or without accommodations) when his dated restrictions are slated to end. Individuals with an employer that allows alternative/restricted work without a clear end date may adapt to the limited work. This can deter their rehabilitation. Unpaid Leave It is also the EEOC’s point of view that unpaid leave is an accommodation of last resort. It used to be that reassignment was the accommodation of last resort, but the EEOC wants to see you working toward putting an employee in a position, bringing him back to work with an assistive device, considering scheduling changes, etc. Providing additional unpaid leave even beyond what the company policy may state or what is legally required is not sufficient under the ADA if the leave is inflexible. So, even if the company has a generous leave policy, additional leave still needs to be considered. Even if the employer feels as though it has satisfied all of its obligations, if it is inflexible in that it doesn’t involve interaction or dialogue, that’s a problem. The EEOC wants to see the company interacting with and learning the individual facts and circumstances of each employee. Best Practice 4: Communication At the outset, it is important to communicate directions and options to an employee who may qualify for an accommodation. Many companies provide options on the initial intake call. When polled, 50 percent of the participants in the May 9, 2013, webinar stated that their companies inform the employees of SAW options as soon as the employees pursue FMLA. The presenters strongly encouraged the rest to do so. The way to keep able employees at work when they are certifiable for continuous FMLA is to offer them attractive options. If employees are happy in their jobs and are informed that they can work in a reduced capacity if need be—or to full capacity with modifications to their jobs—they may choose to be at work rather than choose not to work. “Being able to communicate with all parties on a claim is a critical need and a challenge.” —Hilary Mitchell (Pitney Bowes)
  17. 17. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 16 Explore reasonable accommodations so that employees can continue to be productive. Some companies provide a brochure to employees that lists different types of reasonable accommodations available, such as: ■ Making facilities accessible ■ Acquisition of assistive devices ■ Job restructuring ■ Modified work schedule ■ Leave of absence ■ Reassignment to a vacant position These examples help employees understand what is within the realm of possibility. Exelon performs regular reviews of its ADA policies and interactive process guidance and materials. These built-in reviews ensure that what is communicated is precise and up to date. Sears emphasized the importance of reaching out to employees to participate in the discussion around reasonable accommodations and of reminding employees that they can return to work with a reasonable accommodation even before exhausting their leave. Employers should also consider sending the employee letters, as applicable, that identify key dates, invite the employee to provide a response regarding potential accommodations and his/her ability or desire to return to work, confirm the company’s understanding of the facts and the employee’s position (especially when an accommodation is going to be denied), and confirm the resolution or outcome. Best Practice 5: Regular and Ongoing Training/Education Clearly defined processes aid in the training and understanding of all involved, but employers must also ensure that their managers follow the processes in place, or the company may be at risk. Supervisors and managers must be trained in the policies and procedures so that they know what they can and cannot do and whether or not they need to consult with an absence and disability management team, HR, or the legal department. Without proper training, inconsistent practices may arise. It is important to note that a one-time training is not sufficient; managers should have ongoing training. Questions to ask to ensure that all employees are trained and adequately resourced include: ■ Are we offering regular in-depth training? ■ Do we regularly update our materials and training to stay current? ■ Are employees and managers aware of resources available, both written and in person? ■ Do managers know when to make ADA requests and whom to contact? ■ Do employees know when to make ADA requests and whom to contact? All presenters were in agreement that, while training and education of all involved are key to the success of ADA implementation, extensive manager education and training are critical.
  18. 18. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 17 “If an employee has a headache, let him wear sunglasses; don’t bring that to committee.” —Corinne Wendell (Exelon) Puget Sound Energy provides mandatory one-hour training to educate supervisors as to the benefits of keeping employees working or returning them to work as soon as possible. When employees are unable to work, supervisors at PSE are instructed to stay in contact with them, keeping them up to date with what is going on in the workplace and encouraging them to return. Supervisors are not to ask about an employee’s diagnosis or treatment plan but rather simply encourage them to come back as soon as they are ready. Exelon offers training to those management employees responsible for engaging in the interactive process (HR generalists, OHS, and the supervisors) to assist them in recognizing a request as a reasonable accommodation and to ensure that they understand their role in the interactive process. Ascension Health Alliance is still working with each hospital to be sure that the ADA process is consistent. Constant education is offered online and in person for managers so that they can handle the low-risk accommodation requests according to ADA processes in place. When AHA centralized their processes, all of the hospital HR generalists were required to attend in-person meetings. In addition to a toll-free number to its centralized leave management team, Sears provides online accommodations training and dedicated e-mail addresses through which managers can send questions they have about how to accommodate an employee or how to make a leave or non-leave accommodation. The company also provides a step-by-step process that managers can use to assist them in accommodating employees. Best Practice 6: Simple, Easy, Quick Sears advises managers that they can make “simple, easy, and quick,” reasonable accommodations without involving the centralized leave management team. An example would be an employee request of “For the next six weeks I need someone to help me lift anything over X lbs.” However, if the manager has questions about the accommodation, for instance, whether it is necessary, whether it can be supported by medical documentation, or whether it will pose undue hardship, or if the request is more complex, the manager may call the centralized leave management team for guidance on how to proceed. In general, managers should seek guidance before denying an accommodation or claiming undue hardship. Best Practice 7: Consult with Legal All Leadership Series participants unanimously agreed to always consult with counsel before taking any adverse employment action, including terminating an employee. In the past, the ADA did not require that preferential placement be given to disabled employees, but current case law now states that disabled employees are to be given preference over other minimally qualified associates.
  19. 19. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 18 Best Practice 8: Consider Job Reassignment Integrated into Sears’ interactive process are job reassignment questions. The goal of these inquiries is to find out what the associate is interested in doing if she cannot return to her regular job with or without accommodations. These inquiries include questions relating to: ■ Whether the associate will accept part-time work ■ Whether the associate has geographic limitations or would be willing to relocate or work out of a different unit ■ Pay expectations ■ Status expectations (i.e., exempt/nonexempt) Documenting this information or using it from a documented source such as a questionnaire allows an employer to focus the discussion and to confirm reassignment efforts, reasons, and results. This can be particularly helpful if an employee later claims that the employer failed to offer a particular job (and it can be shown that the job in issue was incompatible with the associate’s requirements). If there are potential positions available that might match what the employee is looking for, introduce him to the hiring manager or find another effective way of confirming whether he understands the job and is interested in and qualified for the job. Although Sears’ centralized leave management team will actively look for potential reassignments, Sears also encourages the associate to identify jobs he believes he can do. The goal is to focus the search on jobs that meet the employee’s restrictions and expectations. Consistent with applicable law, Sears will not create a job other than in the context of temporary modified duty for an employee as a reasonable accommodation. Exelon follows a similar job reassignment process and provides a job search period (usually 60 to 90 days) for the employee to search for a job with HR assistance. Ascension Health Alliance offers placements on a national level, although few employees want to relocate. Jenny Haykin of Puget Sound Energy shared an example of an alternative work assignment when a pregnant worker who was put on bed rest was assigned to do data entry from her bed until the baby was born. The IT department set her up with a laptop and printer in her bedroom because her doctor would not allow her to travel to work. This was not her regular job, but it filled an immediate need in the company—and saved the company months of disability. Best Practice 9: Watch Your Timing Not only is regular and ongoing communication important in the interactive process, but also timing. Employers should acknowledge when an accommodation request is received and outline the timing for review and response to the request. Several of the presenting companies stated that they also communicate 30-45 days in advance of the exhaustion of a leave, requesting that the employee contact them. It is just as important to be responsive to requests for accommodations while an employee is still on the job. This is where the “simple, easy, quick” fix may come in. (See Best Practice 6.) If an employee asks for a stool and you wait too long to provide it, you may find yourself in trouble with the EEOC. The EEOC looks not only at response time in acknowledging a request but also at reasonable speed in implementing the solution. This is especially critical if someone is out on an unpaid leave.
  20. 20. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 19 Best Practice 10: Document, Document, Document! Documentation is vital. Document, and then preserve and maintain that documentation. Keep records of all notices sent to employees, including employee benefits documentation, employer handbooks describing policies and practices regarding leaves, any correspondence disputing leave designations or extensions, and specific records of phone conversations and meetings. It is imperative to document all conversations. Correspondence should include specifics such as “We attempted to reach you on such and such a date and you did not return our call.” The EEOC will be asking for your documentation, and if something is not documented and there is not a paper trail, it will be as if it didn’t happen. Presenting Employers and Participants Employer Summaries Ascension Health Alliance, a not-for-profit Catholic health care system, is currently the largest nonprofit health care provider in the U.S., operating in 23 states and the District of Columbia, with more than 152,000 employees and revenues of $1.5 billion. Along with 105 acute care hospitals, it also offers a regular continuum of care through ambulatory care and diagnostics, post-acute service sites, extended care sites, and prevention and wellness programs. With its corporate office in St. Louis, Missouri, AHA is most proud of the $1.2 billion of care it provided last year for those who did not have coverage in their communities. Exelon Corporation’s family of companies participates in every stage of the energy business, from generation to competitive energy sales to transmission to delivery. Its many business units include Exelon Generation Company (with 13 nuclear sites in five states) and three utilities (ComEd, PECO, & BGE), which provide electricity to more than 6.6 million customers. Its Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to approximately 100,000 business and public sector customers and approximately 1 million residential customers. It has been a top-ranked electric and gas utility on the Fortune 500 list each year since 2008. Kaiser Permanente Northwest has more than 10,000 employees in Oregon and Washington with two hospitals and multiple medical/dental/vision clinics that serve 600,000 members. It is one of eight regions covered by Kaiser Permanente, a health care organization with 200,000 employees. The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (KFHP) was ranked highest in the J.D. Power & Associates 2011 U.S. Employer Health Insurance Plan Study. Pitney Bowes is a Fortune 500 company with a 90-year legacy and a global team of 30,000 employees present in more than 130 countries. In the U.S. alone they have 21,000 employees, half of which are hourly workers in call centers or mail-sorting facilities. They are a $4 billion leading mail stream technology solutions provider with more than 2 million customers. Their core business is mail, now including electronic mail. Puget Sound Energy has 2,800 employees and two unions. They are headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. Washington State’s oldest local energy utility, PSE serves 1.1 million electric customers and more than 760,000 natural gas customers in 10 counties. PSE meets the energy needs of its customers, in part, through cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy
  21. 21. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 20 resources, and farsighted investment in energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service that is safe, dependable, and efficient. For more information, visit www.PSE.com, or follow PSE on Facebook or Twitter. Sears Holdings Corporation is a leading integrated retailer with more than 2,500 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada and the home of SHOP YOUR WAY, a social shopping experience. Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, fitness equipment, and automotive repair and maintenance. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard, with a broad apparel offering, including many well-known labels. They are the nation’s largest provider of home services, with more than 14 million service and installation calls made annually. They have been named the Recipient of the 2013 ENERGY STAR® “Partner of the Year - Sustained Excellence Award” for Product Retailing and Energy Management, and one of the Top 20 Best Places to Work for Recent Grads. Sears Holdings Corporation operates through its subsidiaries, including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corporation. The company employs nearly 250,000 people across the United States and Puerto Rico. Panel Member Biographies Suzann Bylund, RN, CPDM (Ascension Health Alliance) is responsible for the design and implementation of the integrated disability program within Ascension Health as Senior Director, Associate Risk Management Programs. She is an occupational health nurse and oversees associate health programs including safety, claims, loss prevention programs, employee health programs, and emergency preparedness. As a member of the DMEC Employer Advisory Council, she is the leader of the Healthcare Industry Group for DMEC, which meets quarterly. Sara Elder (Sears Holdings Management Corporation) oversees the human resources functions for various Sears Holdings companies (e.g., Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corporation) relating to HR compliance, HR policy, discrimination charges, affirmative action, and centralized leave and accommodations management. Most recently, Ms. Elder was named as a 2012 Top 100 Under 50 Diverse Emerging Leader by Diversity MBA Magazine. Sara graduated from DePaul University College of Law and received her undergraduate degree in history and sociology from Washington University in St. Louis. Jenny Haykin (Puget Sound Energy) and one program analyst, Lillie Yates, oversee absence/disability administration, job modifications, workers’ compensation, EAP, nurse case management, and psychiatric consults for Puget Sound Energy, with the assistance of Puget Sound Vocational Services, a small local vendor that provides facilitation of reasonable accommodations and transitional duty, with customized services specific to PSE. Jenny oversees both occupational and nonoccupational job modifications, which include modifications for pregnancy disability. After working for several years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, Jenny obtained a master’s degree in HR development to focus her career on SAW and RTW programming. The programs she has developed in the Seattle area over the past 13 years have earned multiple national recognitions. In 2007, Jenny was hired by Puget Sound Energy to create the company’s integrated absence and disability management program. Previously she worked at King County Government and Boeing. She utilizes SAW and RTW as the drivers of disability management and program integration. She has trained over 1,000 supervisors, managers, VRCs, claims examiners, and HR professionals.
  22. 22. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 21 Hilary Mitchell (Pitney Bowes, Inc.) is Director of Employee Health Absences at Pitney Bowes Inc. She has direct responsibility for the disability department, and U.S. workers’ compensation claims and vendor management. At Pitney Bowes, Hilary has also been the Director, Employee Service Center, and Director, Voluntary Benefits. Hilary received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mount Saint Mary College and her master’s degree in Health Care Services from Iona College. She is also a graduate of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, HMO Executive Program. Recently she completed her MBA at Quinnipiac University, and received the award for the highest achievement in health care management. Michael Moses (Kaiser Permanente NW) currently serves as the HR ADA case manager for the Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region, which has approximately 9,700 employees in Oregon and southwest Washington. Prior to his current role, Mike was instrumental in developing and implementing Kaiser’s Integrated Disability Management program (IDM). Launched in July 2006, this first-of-its-kind program for Kaiser provides temporary transitional work for employees with personal health conditions that prevent them from performing their regular work. Today, the program is still considered to be a model for other Kaiser Permanente regions and Mike continues to work closely with the National IDM Project team to assist with the development of regional IDM programs around the country. Before beginning his career in disability management, Mike spent 20 years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. He’s also been actively involved with DMEC for eight years, including serving as the local chapter president for the last five. In 2006, he received the Chester Miller Leadership award from DMEC National. Since 2009, Mike has been a CPDM instructor for the Insurance Educational Association (IEA) and is very passionate about sharing his 30+ years of disability management experience with his students. Barb Stevens (Exelon) is the Director of Exelon’s Occupational Health and Regulatory Medical Services Department (OHS). She has worked for Exelon for 17 years. She is responsible for the governance and oversight of Exelon’s medical programs, including integrated disability case management (ADA, reasonable accommodation, and RTW programs), fitness for duty, and regulatory medical testing examinations. She holds a master’s in health administration from University of St. Francis. Corinne Wendell (Exelon) joined Exelon’s Legal Department as an Assistant General Counsel in the Labor and Employment group in 2009. In that role, Corinne helps HR and line management make employment decisions that reduce potential exposure to liability and ensure that Exelon’s operating companies are in compliance with applicable labor laws, including regularly counseling clients on ADA interactive process and medical leave issues, compliance with FMLA regulations, and conducting ADA and FMLA training. Corinne graduated from Northwestern University School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  23. 23. DMEC White Paper—2013 Leadership Series 22 22 Abbreviations ADA Americans with Disabilities Act AHA Ascension Health Alliance CPDM Certified Professional in Disability Management DMEC Disability Management Employer Coalition EAP employee assistance program EEOC Equal Employment Opportunity Commission FMLA Family and Medical Leave Act HR human resources IDM integrated disability management JAN Job Accommodation Network LTD long-term disability OHS Occupational Health Services PSE Puget Sound Energy RTW return to work SAW stay at work STD short-term disability TPA third-party administrator VRC vocational rehabilitation counselor
  24. 24. About Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) DMEC is a non-profit organization that provides educational resources to employers in the areas of disability, absence, health, and productivity. The primary goal of DMEC is to assist employers in developing cost-saving programs, encouraging responsive market products, and returning employees to productive employment. Visit www.dmec.org for more information about educational publications and events. DMEC currently has over 4,700 members in chapters across the United States and two international exchange programs. Both Employer and Supplier memberships are offered. DMEC strives to provide excellence in service and industry leadership by adhering to the highest principles of integrity, honesty, and ethical standards. For more information on DMEC, including upcoming conferences, seminars, virtual education webinars, chapter activities, and member news and resources visit www.dmec.org or call 800.789.3632. About Liberty Mutual Insurance “Helping people live safer, more secure lives” since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2012 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 81st on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2012 revenue. As of December 31, 2012, Liberty Mutual Insurance had $120.1 billion in consolidated assets, $101.5 billion in consolidated liabilities, and $36.9 billion in annual consolidated revenue. Liberty Mutual Insurance offers a wide range of insurance products and services, including personal automobile, homeowners, workers compensation, property, commercial automobile, general liability, global specialty, group disability, reinsurance, and surety. Liberty Mutual Insurance (www.libertymutualinsurance.com) employs over 50,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the world. GRP 142 08/13

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