The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued final regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The act, which became effective Jan. 1, 2009, made significant changes to the definition of “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The EEOC’s final regulations broadly construe the variety of physical and mental conditions that qualify for such coverage. The regulations indicate a shift in the focus in ADA cases to whether employers have complied with their obligations and whether discrimination has occurred, as opposed to whether an individual meets the definition of “disability.”
Impairments that will qualify as covered disabilities in “virtually all cases” include autism; blindness; bipolar disorder; cancer; cerebral palsy; deafness; diabetes; HIV infection; intellectual disability; major depressive disorder; missing limbs; multiple sclerosis; muscular dystrophy; and schizophrenia.
The final regulations also expand the list of “major life activities” and “major bodily functions” that can be impaired as “nonexhaustive.” This means that the EEOC may recognize additional examples of major life activities, including, for example, “interacting with others,” “reaching” and “sitting.” The regulations further broadened the definition of the impairments that “substantially limit” an individual. For example, short-term impairments (less than six months in duration), episodic impairments and/or impairments in remission qualify as substantially limiting.
Impact: Employers need to understand and abide by these major changes set forth in the EEOC’s final regulations. For more information, go to eeoc.gov.
Workforce Management, June 2011, p. 12 -- Subscribe Now!
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.