Employers need to be aware of the changes to the ADA that the new ADA Amendments Act puts into place effective January 1, 2009.
The ADA Amendments Act of 2008, signed by President Bush on September 25, 2008, came about from members of Congress disagreeing with key Supreme Court rulings defining “disability”. The amendments will overturn these prior court cases broadening the definition of disability and increasing the number of employees to be covered. The amendment restricts the ability to determine disability based on ameliorative effects of mitigating measures. Impairments that are episodic or in remission will now also be seen as a disability if it limits a major life activity when active. Congress in addition ordered the EEOC to issue new regulations on when an individual is “substantially limited”. On the plus side Congress has outlawed reverse discrimination suits.
The changes to the ADA will now make many more employees qualified as disabled. Employers will need to spend more time on determining reasonable accommodations than on whether the employee is disabled. HR policies and procedures will need to be updated and competent professional assistance should be procured.