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On September 25, 2008, former President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the “ADAAA” or the “Act”) into law, broadening the definition of “disability” under the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”). The ADAAA makes it easier for people to establish that they are protected by the ADA and overturns holdings in several well-known Supreme Court decisions, which had previously narrowed the “disability” definition.
The EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in September 2009 to implement regulations addressing the ADAAA, and received well over 600 public comments in response. The final regulations were published in the Federal Register on March 25, 2011, and are designed to simplify the determination of who has a “disability” as defined by the ADA. See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-03-25/pdf/2011-6056.pdf. The regulations will become effective on May 24, 2011.
The final regulations differ from the proposed regulations in a variety of ways. For example, the final regulations modify or remove the list of impairments that would “consistently,” “sometimes,” or “usually not” qualify as disabilities. Rather, Section 1630.2(j) of the final regulations provides nine rules of construction to guide the analysis and explains that by applying those principles, some impairments will virtually always constitute a disability. Moreover, the final regulations endeavor to clarify the scope of the “substantially limits” definition and reincorporate an analysis of the “condition, manner or duration” under which a major life activity can be performed.
To continue reading the alert, click on the PDF linked below. If you have any questions regarding the ADAAA final regulations or their application, please visit the Haynes and Boone Labor and Employment Practice page of our website or contact one of the attorneys listed below: