February 2000


By Edward P. Abramowitz and Walter B. Taylor

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established disabled employees' right to return to work after a work-related injury. Many employers are unaware of various aspects of the legislation, including their responsibility to inform employees of their right to return to work and to provide reasonable accommodations upon an employee's return. Workers' compensation laws shield employers from suits brought by employees due to work-related injury but offer no such protection from ADA suits. Under the ADA, an employer's failure to inform employees of their rights could be construed as negligence.

The New York Omnibus Workers' Compensation Act of 1996 provides employers with an excellent means of informing employees of their ADA rights through case management services offered by preferred provider organizations (PPOs). The act was designed to reduce workers' compensation medical fee schedules and indemnity costs.

Workers' compensation PPOs and PPO medical networks provide case management programs designed to maintain an employee's self-esteem while encouraging a return to work. The success of case management is based upon the premise that the sooner an employee receives professional care, the better the chances of a successful return to the workplace.

A PPO medical network for workers' compensation is the most cost-effective way to facilitate an injured employee's return to work. The cost of the PPO's services is funded through workers' compensation premiums, and care is provided by registered nurses that focus on return-to-work programs.

By returning employees to work sooner, the PPO helps reduce the cost of workers' compensation indemnity payments. For this reason, many carriers offer a premium reduction if the employer signs up for a PPO program. *

Edward P. Abramowitz is with CB Planning Services Corporation in Great Neck, N.Y., and
Walter B. Taylor is with the Hamilton Wharton Group, Inc., in New York City.

Sheldon M. Geller, Esq.
Geller & Wind, Ltd.

Michael D. Schulman, CPA
Schulman & Company

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