Do you know the ADAAA? Click here for our cheat sheet. Surprisingly few people are talking about the final rule recently issued by the EEOC implementing the ADAAA. Here are the highlights. What employers are covered? Those with 15 or more employees. Effective date. 60 days after the publication of the regulations on March 25. Easier to establish a covered "disability." The ADAAA overturned several Supreme Court decisions that Congress believed interpreted the ADA disability definition too narrowly. The ADAAA expressly states that the definition of "disability" and "regarded as" should be interpreted in favor of broad coverage. Same "disability" definition but broader interpretation. The basic definition of a covered disability remains the same – a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record (or past history) of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a disability. However, the EEOC stresses that the ADAAA and new regulations are designed to ensure broad interpretation of each of those key terms. Rules of construction. According to the EEOC, the regulations "implement Congress' intent to set forth predictable, consistent, and workable standards by adopting 'rules of construction' to use when determining if an individual is substantially limited in performing a major life activity." Those rules include: "Substantially limits" construed broadly. "Substantially limits" requires a lower degree of functional limitation than the standard previously required by courts. A condition need not prevent or significantly restrict a major life activity to be considered "substantially limiting." Individualized assessment. The determination of whether a condition substantially limits a major life activity requires an individualized assessment, as was true prior to the ADAAA. Don't consider mitigating measures. With the exeception of "ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses," the determination of whether a condition substantially limits a major life activity must be made "without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, such as medication or hearing aids." Do consider episodic or remission conditions. Such conditions are covered disabilities if they substantially limit a major life activity. No extensive analysis required. The EEOC says that "in keeping with Congress' direction that the primary focus of the ADA is on whether discrimination occurred, the determination of disability should not require extensive analysis." Reasonable accommodation. The regulations clarify that an individual must be covered under the ADA's first prong ("actual disability") or second prong ("record of disability") to qualify for reasonable accommodation. Conditions that "virtually always constitute a disability." The regulations provide examples of conditions that "should easily be concluded to be disabilities," including bipolar disorder, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and HIV infection. Q&A. Click here for a Q&A prepared by the EEOC and here for one specific to small businesses.
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