NEW ADA REGULATIONS PROPOSED

October 16, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment

 As you probably already know (if you’re in HR), Congress amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) effective on January 1, 2009.  The new law retains the traditional and familiar definition of disability (an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity) but now interprets it much more broadly to give the law wider coverage.  Thus, more people will likely now fit within the definition, meaning employers must apply the law’s protections (essentially nondiscrimination and reasonable accommodation) to more employees.  On September 23, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued draft regulations to implement the newly-amended ADA. Among other things, the proposed regulations do the following:

(1) revise the phrase “substantially limits” so that it no longer means a “severe” or “significant” restriction as it did before the amendments;
(2) add expanded and non-exhaustive lists of major life activities for use in determining if someone is disabled;
(3) lists impairments that presumptively will be disabilities;
(4) instructs investigators, courts, etc.  to disregard ameliorative effects of mitigating measures when determining is someone is disabled;
(5) instructs that impairments that are episodic are still disabilities even if they are not active or are in remission.

 The intended bottom line of the draft regulations is that the focus in ADA compliance and litigation should shift more away from the question of whether someone is disabled and more towards the question of what an employer did to try to help someone.  Here is a link to a Q & A from the EEOC intended to help explain the proposals: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_adaaa_nprm.html

Acknowledgement and thanks to Mike O’Brien (writer) and Kriss Hess (sender) at the law firm Jones Waldo in Salt Lake City, UT

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Entry filed under: Human Resources (HR). Tags: , , , .

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