EEOC Issues ADAAA Regulations

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On March 25, 2011 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued revised regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and also revised its Interpretive Guidance on Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Among other things, the ADAAA shifts the focus in disability cases from resolving whether the employee has a disability to addressing whether there is an accommodation suitable for the employee and reasonable. While the basic definition of ?disability? under the ADA is retained, the Amendments Act expands the calculus for interpreting ?disability,? clarifies and expands the scope of ?major life activities,? and requires  broad coverage for those claiming a ?disability.?

Some key highlights of the new EEOC Regulations are:

  • While employers must engage in individualized assessments of ?disability? status, certain conditions, due to their inherent nature, ?virtually always? meet the broadened definition of ?disability?.
  • The term ?disability? includes any impairment, even if it is episodic or in remission, so long as that impairment would ?substantially limit? a major life activity when active.
  • An impairment need significantly restrict a major life activity to be considered ?substantially limiting?.
  • A temporary impairment (e.g., one lasting less than 6 months) can be ?substantially limiting? in certain circumstances (for example, a back impairment that results in a lifting restriction of 20 pounds that lasts for a few months).
  • With the exception of corrective eyeglass or contact lenses, employers may not consider the ameliorative effects of ?mitigating measures? when assessing whether an impairment substantially limits one?s major life activities.

Click here for EANJ ADAAA Regulations Webinar on May 11, 2011