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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in ADA (38)


An Over-the-Counter Remedy for the Health Risk Assessment Headache

The following article was originally published on the Verrill Dana Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation group's blog

A number of clients have recently asked a relatively simple question: Can they require an employee to take a health risk assessment (“HRA”) as a condition of participation in a wellness program or group health plan? This question seems simple enough. Nevertheless, the answer involves unraveling a complex web of federal and state privacy, discrimination, and disability-related laws – and that’s just the beginning! Parsing through these laws will give even the most savvy HR professional a headache. This post offers an over-the-counter remedy for that headache by describing some basic principles that employers can follow to determine what they can and cannot do in designing HRA incentives. But first a bit of background about HIPAA, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”), and a recent case that appears to help.

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Effective Date Arrives For New ATM Accessibility Standards

March 15, 2011 marked the effective date for new regulations (the “2010 Standards”) implemented by the US Justice Department (“DOJ”) that govern accessibility for places of public accommodation, including automatic teller machines (“ATMs”).  The regulations include technically specific accessibility requirements that were previously lacking in the general accessibility requirements established in 1991 (the “1991 Standards”).   While the 1991 Standards require ATMs to be accessible and independently useable by persons with visual impairments, the 2010 Standards related to ATMs include but are not limited to technical requirements for speech output, privacy, tactilely-discernable input controls, display screens, and Braille instruction. 

Safe harbor provisions, allowing for continued compliance with the 1991 Standards for a period of time, do not apply to these technical specifications that are new to the 2010 Standards.  Consequently, the technical, communications-related elements required for ATMs in the 2010 Standards must be implemented by March 15, 2012, unless compliance would cause an “undue burden” for the financial institution.  Therefore, unless you can make a showing of “undue burden,” ATMs must be upgraded to the new standards on or after March 15, 2012, “to the extent readily achievable.” 

Generally speaking, it is much more difficult to meet the standard for an “undue burden” than the standard for what is not “readily achievable.”  An undue burden requires “significant difficulty or expense.”  In each case, the DOJ considers these standards to require individualized, case-by-case analyses.  The requirements of the new regulations are lengthy, and financial institutions should develop implementation plans to the extent their ATMs are not in compliance with the regulations. 

The regulations may be found here:

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