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ADA Amendments Act of 2008

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 12/28/2008
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Our company, which is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, is in the process of adjusting our internal policies and procedures to comply with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Does the ADAAA provide employers with a grace period to work out potential issues before an employer may be held liable under the law's new requirements?

No. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which was signed into law on September 25, 2008, will take effect on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA does not contain a grace period or any other safe-harbor provision; thus, all covered employers will be required to comply with the ADAAA beginning on January 1, 2009. Generally, an amendment to an existing law increases the possibility of liability against those who fail to adequately prepare for the change. However, in the context of the ADAAA, the consequences for failing to anticipate the breadth of the changes could be severe because the ADAAA expands the scope and applicability of the ADA in several respects.

The underlying theme of the ADAAA was Congress' disappointment with the manner in which courts, specifically the U.S. Supreme Court, have improperly narrowed the broad scope of protection originally intended by the ADA. To that end, the ADAAA expressly overruled several U.S. Supreme Court opinions that limited the scope and applicability of the ADA. Further, the ADAAA expands the scope of the ADA by providing that the definition of 'disability' is to be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by law. The ADAAA also expanded the list of 'major life activities' and relaxed the 'substantially limits' requirement. These specific changes, coupled with Congress' directive that courts interpret the ADA broadly, will likely increase the number of people protected by the ADA. Consequently, the number of alleged ADA violations is also likely to increase. Therefore, employers must take care to be compliant with the ADAAA as of January 1, 2009.

To learn more about the ADAAA, read this article about the new law by a member of our Risk Management Group.

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Categories: 2008

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