EEOC PUBLISHES PROPOSED RULES IMPLEMENTING THE AMENDMENTS TO THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
by Morris L. Hawk
On September 23, 2009, the EEOC published its proposed rules implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) to expand the coverage of the Act. The ADA currently defines a "disability" as "an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities", a "record of such an impairment", or "being regarded as having such an impairment." Among other changes, the proposed rules significantly expand the meaning of "disability" by:
Expanding the definition of "substantially limits" by eliminating the requirement that an impairment must "significantly" or "severely" restrict a major life activity in order to meet the standard.
Expanding what constitutes a "major life activity" by providing two non-exhaustive lists of activities and functions that include activities such as sitting, reaching, bending, and concentrating and such functions as digestive, bladder and reproductive functions, along with specifically concluding that conditions such as cancer, epilepsy and AIDS are deserving of coverage.
Excluding the consideration of mitigating measures, other than eyeglasses or contact lenses, in determining whether a "disability" exists; and,
Specifying that an impairment that is episodic or in remission must be considered as if it were active in determining whether an individual has a "disability" within the meaning of the Act.
The proposed rules can be found here: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-22840.pdf.
The EEOC has also prepared a Question and Answer bulletin that provides helpful guidance on the ADAA and the proposed rules which can be found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_adaaa_nprm.html.
These rules will now be subject to a 60-day comment period during which time the public may submit comments to the EEOC regarding the proposed changes. The EEOC will issue final regulations after considering the comments received. If you have any questions or concerns about these proposed changes or your company’s policies as they relate to the ADA, you should consult with your attorney.
The information in this Client Alert is a summary of often complex legal issues and may not cover all of thefine points" of a specific situation or court jurisdiction. Accordingly, it is not intended to be legal advice, which should always be obtained in consultation with an attorney.