Are You Ready for the ADAAA?

Starting May 24, 2011, the Amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADAAA) are effective.

The new rules provide for a much broader definition of “disability”.

That means that more disabilities will be covered and afforded protection under the Act.

As a small business owner, you need to shift your approach from verifying that an employee or potential employee has an ADA-covered disability to trying to find an effective accommodation that will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of their position.

In order to do that, you need to keep in mind the Rules of Construction to determine whether the employee’s disability or impairment limits a major life activity.

The Rules of Construction

Rule 1:

The term “substantially limits” is to be used broadly in favor of affording broader coverage; it is not intended to be a demanding standard to meet.

Rule 2:

An employee’s impairment is a disability if it substantially limits the ability of the employee to perform a major life activity when compared to the rest of the population.  That does not mean that the impairment has to actually prevent or severely restrict the ability to perform a major life activity.

Rule 3:

Cases brought under the ADA should be considered based on whether or not discrimination has actually occurred and whether or not the employer has met their obligation to make accommodations under the Act.

Rule 4:

Determining whether or not impairment substantially limits the ability to perform a major life activity will be done on an individual, case-by-case basis.

Rule 5:

Comparing the ability of an individual to perform a major life activity to the rest of the population will not require scientific, medical or statistical analysis.  Although those tools may be used if appropriate, they are not required.

Rule 6:

Determining whether or not an impairment substantially limits the ability to perform a major life activity should be made without taking into consideration whether or not measures, medication or devices are available and are being used to lessen the disruptive effects of the disability.  For example, if you have an employee who is seriously visually impaired but whose glasses give him or her he ability to see fairly clearly, having corrective glasses does not change the fact that the visual impairment may substantially limit that employee’s ability to perform a major life activity.

We hope this helps you get a better handle on complying with the new regulations under the ADAAA.  These are just a few of the changes you need to be aware of and with which your company must comply.

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The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC

At The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, we answer your questions at your convenience; we stay in frequent communication; and we meet to discuss changes in life circumstances and in the law to ensure that your assets are protected.

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