Main Menu
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008

Earlier this month, both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) with broad bipartisan support. President George W. Bush then signed the ADAAA into law yesterday, September 25, 2008. The amendments will take effect on January 1, 2009.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of one's disability in employment, public accommodations and other contexts. The new law overturns three 1999 Supreme Court decisions holding that courts must consider "mitigating measures" in determining whether an individual has an ADA-covered disability. The law also overturns a 2002 Supreme Court decision that some believed made it too difficult for ADA plaintiffs to prove they are "substantially limited" in a "major life activity."

The ADAAA provides that the "definition of disability . . . shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals . . . to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of [the ADA.]" The law requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to draft new regulations establishing a less demanding standard for an individual to establish the existence of a substantially limiting physical or mental impairment.

The ADAAA also eases the burden of proving that an employer discriminated against an individual whom it "regarded as" having a disability. Traditionally, an individual claiming she or he was "regarded as" having a disability had to prove that the employer either mistakenly regarded the individual as having an impairment that substantially limited a major life activity or mistakenly believed that an actual impairment substantially limited the individual. The ADAAA will make an employer liable under a "regarded as" theory if the individual can show discrimination because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment, regardless of whether the impairment actually limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. This is expected to make it considerably easier for plaintiffs to prevail on "regarded as" claims.

The ADAAA also clarifies, however, that "regarded as" claims cannot be based on transitory and minor impairments that are expected to last less than six months. The ADAAA also clarifies that employers are not required to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals who are regarded as disabled, an issue over which the federal courts of appeals were previously split.

Regardless of whether you supported or opposed the ADAAA (and even if you've never heard of it before), you had better begin preparing for its implementation if you are an employer that is covered by the ADA. This means, at a minimum, reviewing and, if necessary, updating your employee handbook and other employment policies.

If you have any questions regarding this, or any other legal issue, please feel free to contact a member of Greenebaum's Labor and Employment Practice Group.

Even though the content of the above Greenebaum Doll & McDonald e-bulletin is primarily informative, state and federal law obligates us to inform you that this is an advertisement. You have received this advisory because you are a client or friend of the firm.

About Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC
Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC is a widely-respected business law firm with approximately 200 legal professionals in six offices, serving local, national and international clients in virtually every industry. A forward-thinking business law firm, Greenebaum is committed to the practice of Breakthrough Law®.

Copyright 2008 Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC. All Rights Reserved.



Recent Posts




Back to Page