Amendments Act Makes It Easier To Prove Discrimination Under ADA

Lawmakers believe that the act of discrimination is more important than the definition of "disability."


That's the sentiment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008, recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.


Originally introduced as the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, the bill would make it easier for workers to prove discrimination under the ADA, first passed in 1990. Among the purposes of the legislation is reinstating a "broad scope of protection" by expanding the meaning of disability.


Currently, a "disability" is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the individual's major life activities when using a mitigating measure, such as:

  • Glasses
  • Pills for hypertension
  • A hearing aid

The current definition of a disability also includes having a record of such impairment or being regarded as having such an impairment. The ADA Restoration Act (HR 402 to 17, HR 3195) redefines "disability" as a physical or mental impairment, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. 


The proposed legislation also contains a rule of construction which states that the determination of whether an individual has a physical or mental impairment shall be made without considering the impact of any mitigating measures. It also excludes minor impairments and impairments with an actual or expected duration of six months or less as disabilities.


The Act specifically includes a section with examples of major life activities such as:

  • Caring for oneself
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Lifting
  • Bending
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Working

The legislation is now in the Senate, where it is expected to pass by the end of the year. Some media reports suggest that the Senate may actually take action before Congress takes its August recess.


It is unclear, however, whether the legislation will be signed by President Bush although the Bush Administration has expressed general support for the bill.


UPDATE: The President signed the ADA Amendment Act of 2008 into law on September 25, 2008. The act called for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to revise its definition of the term "substantially limits," as it pertains to the definition of disability.


The law also adds major bodily functions, including reproductive functions, endochrine functions, circulatory functions, respiratory functions, brain functions, neurological functions, bladder functions, bowel functions, digestive functions, normal. cell growth and immune system functions.


The Act goes into effect on January 1, 2009 and will not pertain to discriminatory acts occurring before that date.

If you suffer from a disability that prevents you from working and earning a living, you might entitled to receivie disability benefits. For a free consultation speak to an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, contact the law offices of Keller & Keller.

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