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EEOC Releases Revised Disability Regulations

Final regulations implementing the 2008 law are aimed at making it easier for individuals to establish that they qualify under the ‘regarded as’ part of the definition of ‘disability,’ the EEOC said in a written statement.

March 28, 2011
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on March 24 released regulations on what qualifies as a “disability” and what constitutes adequate protection of individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

The regulations are designed to determine who has a “disability” and is protected under the 2008 law that modified the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Final regulations implementing the 2008 law are aimed at making it easier for individuals to establish that they qualify under the “regarded as” part of the definition of “disability,” the EEOC said in a written statement.

“Establishing such coverage used to pose significant hurdles, but under the new law, the focus is on how the person was treated rather than on what an employer believes about the nature of the person’s impairment,” the EEOC said in a written statement.

Employers had been waiting for the EEOC to issue the rules to determine how they will affect their operations.

The 2008 law overturned several Supreme Court decisions that had narrowed the definition of “disability,” resulting in a denial of protection for individuals with ailments such as cancer, epilepsy and diabetes.

The final regulations keep the ADA’s definition of the term “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, the EEOC said in the written statement, but the ADA Amendments Act significantly changed how those terms are interpreted.

The EEOC said like the original disability law, regulations for the ADA Amendments Act make it clear that not every impairment constitutes a disability. The regulations include examples of impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities, such as HIV infection, diabetes, epilepsy and bipolar disorder, the EEOC said.  

Filed by Jeff Casale of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

 

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