American Journal of Law & Medicine

Disability & ADA: Employers and Insurers Not Obligated by the ADA to Provide Equal Benefit Plans for Physical and Mental Disabilities--Weyer v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.(1).

Disability & ADA: Employers and Insurers Not Obligated by the ADA to Provide Equal Benefit Plans for Physical and Mental Disabilities--Weyer v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.(1)--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a group disability insurance policy offered as a fringe benefit that provides more benefits for physical disabilities than mental disabilities, does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or related Washington state statutes.(2)

Appellee Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (Fox) provides as a fringe benefit to its employees an opportunity to buy a group disability insurance plan administered by Appellee UNUM Life Insurance Company of America (UNUM). Under this policy, an employee disabled due to alcohol or drug use, or mental illness, could receive benefits for two years while those with physical disabilities could receive benefits until the age of sixty-five. At the time Fox chose this policy, UNUM offered a similar policy that did limit benefits for mental illness to two years. However, Fox chose the limited plan became it was less expensive for the employees and thus a more appealing fringe benefit.(3)

Appellant Helen Weyer worked for Fox and elected to enroll in the group policy. In 1994, Weyer became totally disabled due to severe depression. …

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