Subscribe Click here to subscribe
On March 25, 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final revised Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, implementing the changes brought about by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the ADAAA). The final regulations become effective on May 24, 2011.
Like the ADAAA, the final regulations retain the basic definition of "disability" as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. However, the final regulation modifies the terms underlying the definition – "impairment," "major life activities," "substantially limits," etc. – in favor of "broad coverage to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA as amended." Furthermore, the stated goal of the final regulations (like that of the ADAAA) is to limit "extensive analysis" into whether an individual has a disability, and instead focus on whether employers have "complied with their obligations and whether discrimination has occurred."
Several notable changes include:
Employers' Bottom Line:
As expected, the final regulations further advance the ADAAA's goal of expansive coverage and, as a result, a greater number of employees will be covered under federal disability law. For this reason, and because the ADAAA and final regulations call for courts to focus primarily on whether an employer has met its obligations under the law (rather than whether an employee is disabled), employers should reevaluate their hiring, attendance, and other personnel policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the final regulations.
If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please contact the authors, Tim Bland, firstname.lastname@example.org, a partner in our Memphis office, or Dylan King, email@example.com, an associate in our Memphis office, or the Ford & Harrison attorney with whom you usually work.