Today, President Bush signed a new disability discrimination law referred to as the “Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008” (ADAAA) or “ADA Amendments Act” for short. Congress unanimously approved the Act last week.
Several conservative decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court had weakened the disability discrimination protections under the ADA. Congress decided to restore the original intent of the ADA, by reversing those decisions through the ADA Amendments Act.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act guaranteed that workers with disabilities would be judged on their merits and not on an employer’s prejudices. But, court rulings since the law’s enactment have dramatically limited the ability of people with disabilities to seek justice under the law.”
“Today we make it absolutely clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects anyone who faces discrimination on the basis of a disability.”
Under the ADA, a disabled individual is one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. The new disability discrimination law better defines what that means, broadens the scope of what a “disability” is and expands what “major life activities” include.
Among other changes, the new law also removes mitigating factors in deciding whether a worker is disabled under the ADA, such as corrective medications, equipment, prosthetics and implants. In other words, the new disability discrimination law ensures that disabled workers won’t lose ADA protection, just because their disabilities are less severe or not immediately apparent because of corrective measures.
The effective date of the new disability discrimination law is January 1, 2009. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the government agency tasked with enforcing federal employment discrimination laws, will enforce the new law.
For legal advice regarding the new disability discrimination law, consult a lawyer.