Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Law Expands Definition of Disability

On September 25, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the “Act”), expanding protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (the "ADA").

The Act, which is effective January 1, 2009, expands the scope of disabilities covered under the ADA.

The Act overturns two Supreme Court decisions that had narrowly construed the definition of “disability” under the ADA, and greatly expands the scope of covered disabilities.

Prior to its amendment, the ADA defined a “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. But the United States Supreme Court held that workers with disabilities who can mitigate their impairment should not be considered disabled. Thus, individuals who are able to control their condition with medication do not qualify as “disabled” and are not protected under the ADA.
The Act was designed to “restore the intent and protections” of the original measure, and overturns the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the impact of corrective measures. As a result of the amendments, many employees who were not previously protected under the ADA may now be considered as disabilities.

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