The final regulations and accompanying interpretive guidance implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) were issued today by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
As explained by the EEOC, the ADAAA:
- directs the EEOC to revise the portion of its regulations defining the term “substantially limits”;
- expands the definition of “major life activities” by including two non-exhaustive lists:
- states that mitigating measures other than “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses” shall not be considered in assessing whether an individual has a disability;
- clarifies that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active;
- changes the definition of “regarded as” so that it no longer requires a showing that the employer perceived the individual to be substantially limited in a major life activity, and instead says that an applicant or employee is “regarded as” disabled if he or she is subject to an action prohibited by the ADA (e.g., failure to hire or termination) based on an impairment that is not transitory and minor; and
- provides that individuals covered only under the “regarded as” prong are not entitled to reasonable accommodation.
Like the law they implement, the regulations are designed to simplify the determination of who has a “disability” and make it easier for people to establish that they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
After providing public comments in late 2009, employers and industry groups have been waiting to find out whether and how the final regulations differ from the proposed regulations that were issued in September 2009.
Since the regulations were just issued minutes ago, I am currently reading through them and will have an updates throughout the next couple weeks. The final regulations will be published in the federal register tomorrow, March 25, 2011. The ADAAA went into effect on January 1, 2009, and the final regulations will become effective 60 days following their publication.
**4/5/11 Update: A summary of the EEOC’s final regulations can be found here.