ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA)

Posted on Posted in Legal Update

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has completed the guidelines for the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). The final regulations were approved and published in the Federal Register on March 25, 2011. One of the biggest changes is the reconstruction of the word “disability” to be used more broadly and to enable more people with disabilities to be protected under this amendment.

By altering the definition of “disability”, individuals with less severe impairments can now be protected under the law against disability discrimination. The act still maintains the basic definition of “disability” to mean “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”, but now has broadened the definition of “major life activities” These now include:
· Caring for oneself
· Performing manual tasks
· Seeing
· Hearing
· Eating
· Sleeping
· Walking
· Standing
· Lifting
· Bending
· Speaking
· Breathing
· Learning
· Reading
· Concentrating
· Thinking
· Communicating
· Working
· Major bodily functions (digestive functions, cell growth, immune system functions, and more)

Analysis
Most of these “Major Life Activities” categories make sense. For example, if an individual has an impairment that limits their ability to see, hear, stand, walk, etc., they would reasonably be considered as disabled. But what about thinking or concentrating? So, would an employee be covered under the ADA if they claimed that their boss’s insistence on showing up to work on time created stress and affected their ability to concentrate? I guess it will be up to the courts to eventually decide.

For more information, please visit the EEOC website:
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm

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