ADA Amendments Act of 2008 – What You Need to Know

November 5, 2008

On October 8, 2008, Labor & Employment lawyers Dana Rust, Rod Satterwhite, and Eric Martin discussed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which significantly expands the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Effective Jan. 1, 2009, the ADAAA will require employers to review job requirements and job descriptions; consider amending accommodation practices; train supervisors on compliance with new rules; and prepare to deal with a larger pool of protected employees and applicants.

Streaming video of the seminar is now available (in WMV format).

  • Part I: Dana Rust – 17 min. (119mb)
  • Part II: Eric Martin – 12 min. (73mb)
  • Part III: Rod Satterwhite, Q&A – 36 min. (250mb)

Topics covered:

Under the ADAAA, evaluating accommodation requests will be more complex and litigation will be more likely. Summary judgment will be more difficult to obtain — meaning more cases will go to trial. Some of the items covered include:

  • Reverse Supreme Court precedent that narrowed applicability of the ADA.
  • Redefine “disability” by expanding “major life activities” as interpreted by courts and the EEOC to include activities of eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking and communicating.
  • Add a new category, “major bodily functions,” that includes, but is not limited to, “functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.”
  • Expand the standard used by courts in determining if an individual is “regarded as” disabled, by prohibiting adverse actions related to impairment “whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.”
  • Exclude only impairments that are “transitory and minor” (impairments “with an actual or perceived duration of six months or less”).
  • Prohibit taking into account ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as medication, prosthetics, or other devices or treatments in determining if impairments are covered disabilities, with a limited exception for eyeglasses and contacts.
  • Require evaluating impairments that are episodic or in remission as though they are active, even if they’re inactive.
  • Clarify that employers are not required to accommodate “regarded as” disabilities for workers who are not actually impaired.