New Regulations Interpret Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act

March 1, 2011

More than two years ago, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), which went into effect on January 1, 2009. In March 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued regulations interpreting the ADAAA’s requirements. As we discussed in the Fall 2008 issue of Golan & Christie’s newsletter, the ADAAA was a significant change from the ADA in two major respects: 1) in order to determine whether a person’s impairment qualifies as a disability, an inquiry must be made without regard to any “mitigating measures” that the person takes to correct their impairment. For example, a person with a seizure disorder who is able to control his condition with the help of medication may still be considered disabled if he would meet the test for disability without medication; and 2) where a person brings a claim based on being “regarded as” disabled and some prohibited action was taken against him as a result, it will not be a defense to say that the actual or perceived impairment does not qualify as a disability.

Among other things, the new regulations provide a list of impairments that will have a strong presumption of qualifying as a disability and will usually bring an employee with one of these impairments under the protections of the ADA. The list of impairments includes: deafness, blindness, intellectual disabilities and autism, partially or completely missing limbs, mobility limitations which require use of a wheelchair, cancer, diabetes, HIV, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. If you have an employee who notifies you of one of these conditions, be sure that you are prepared and know how to respond appropriately.

To discuss these or other employment laws, contact Laura A. Balson or Margaret A. Gisch.