The ADAAA: Part Two – Some Key Points

This is a follow up to my post entitled The ADAAA: This is as messy as it sound. I wanted to hit some of the key points of the new regulations that were published by the EEOC. These are tidbits I picked up from the folks at Seyfarth Shaw and other reading I have been doing. So here you go:

  • The prime purpose of the new regulations is to make it easier for people with disabilities to obtain protection under the ADA.
  • The prime focus should not be whether an employee is disabled but whether the employer is complying with the regulations.
  • There is 3 pronged coverage. People who are actually disabled, or have a “record of disability’ or are “regarded as disabled”  are covered. This last area has been extensively expanded.
  • What is regarded as a “Major Life Activity” has been expanded. It now includes things such as “interacting with others” which may have direct impact on mental impairment considerations.
  • Impairments must still be “substantially limiting” but that does not mean it has to be a significant impairment. In fact this cannot be a demanding standard and no medical evidence is required.
  • Mitigating measures are irrelevant, other than ordinary eyeglasses. In evaluating someone you have to consider them in their “unmitigated state.”
  • Temporary impairments can be considered disabling. There is no time standard on what “temporary” means and the employer bears the burden of proof on showing that the condition is so temporary and so minor that it should not be considered.
  • Conditions in remission are still considered disabilities. So cancer that has gone in to remission, even for long periods of time, is still considered a disability.

If you want to read more about what a disability is see Section 902 Definition of the term Disability.
On the next installment I will talk about Essential Functions and why they are so important. So stay tuned.
Lastly, I want to make it clear  I am not against employees being protected under this law. I myself have a mitigated “disability” that is unknown to anyone unless I choose to reveal it. So I am all for protection if it is needed. I just prodict that this, like many other laws, such as FMLA, will now be open to abuse and just making the HR job all that much more difficult.
I guess time will tell. But one thing is certain. You need to educate yourself and your supervisors/managers and you need to make sure you have someone watching your back.

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