An Effective ADA Disability Compliance Program

DMEC Staff@Work

Cost Savings Built in Los Angeles: An Effective ADA Disability Compliance Program

By Joanne Petersonm, MPA, PHR, CLRM

Chief Human Capital & Development Officer
Los Angeles Metro

By Lindsay Mason, Esq., AWI-CH

Director, Human Resources
Los Angeles Metro

Between 2013 and 2016, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) incurred $6 million in losses due to disability discrimination litigation. The program was protecting neither disabled employees nor Metro’s bottom line. Moreover, plaintiff attorneys had singled out the agency as a target, leveraging a misaligned system. Losses were continuing to mount, and change was due. An opportunity arose with a transition in leadership in the organization’s Human Capital & Development department.

In 2016, Metro, which operates the second-largest public transportation system in the United States, made the decision to completely revamp how disability compliance was performed at the agency.

With the support of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County Counsel (Metro’s legal counsel), and the leadership of CEO Phillip A. Washington, the talent management team set out to rebuild its disability compliance program from the ground up. In beginning the work, Metro realized that though it had the talent needed to manage a complex and compliant program, it needed assistance building a program that was realistic for the agency to employ and based on industry best practices. Metro partnered with Shaw HR Consulting, Inc., a California-based disability compliance consulting firm, to create and implement this program.

Nearly three years later, the program has seen great success. Since implementation in 2017, Metro has not lost one Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case, and only one ADA lawsuit has been filed against the agency. Equally important to the near elimination of costly litigation stemming from ADA accommodation failings, the program has gained the trust and support of its internal stakeholders and union partners.

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