ADA Amendments Act of 2008
On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed a momentous change in the law that applies to persons with disabilities: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The Act went into effect January 1, 2009.
The Act overturns recent Supreme Court decisions in order to further the promise of the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Act does the following:
- It removes the requirement that a person be evaluated as disabled on the basis of so-called mitigating measure. For instance, a person who has great difficulty walking and uses a walker will now be evaluated, not on the basis that he uses the walker and therefore is not disabled because he is able to walk, but without reference to the walker. This will greatly expand the reach of the ADA and number of individuals who will be assisted.
- It defines and expands the number of so-called major life activities to which the ADA applies. For the first time, the law now explicitly includes changes to a persons neurological, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive systems.
- Perhaps most importantly, it directs the courts to interpret and apply the ADA as a remedial statute, i.e., broadly. This, too, will greatly benefit persons with disabilities.
A person with a disability is generally defined as someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the ability to perform basic functions, such as walking, eating, sleeping, and the like. A person with a disability is entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace, which means the employer must do what is reasonably necessary to enable the person to work or continue to work. This may include physical changes in the work site or alterations in schedules.
If you or someone you know is in a situation where reasonable accommodation might be called for, you should call human resources at the employer and request it. In such situations, an attorney may be helpful to assist in obtaining accommodations or deal with a denial or resulting discrimination.
Disclaimer: This article is published by the Law Office of Kevin Keaney for those working or interested in employment and labor law. The articles are intended to supply general legal information and are not intended to be a substitute for legal representation or advice.