Today brings us numbers 4 and 3 of our countdown of the year’s top labor and employment law stories:
4. President Bush signs the ADA Amendments Act: The ADA Amendments, which go into effect Jan. 1, will undo several employer-friendly Supreme Court decisions that limited who could qualify as “disabled” under the statute. These amendments will make it easier for an employee to qualify for protection under the ADA, and make it harder for employer to get cases dismissed on summary judgment on the issue of whether an employee is disabled.
3. President Bush enacts new FMLA provisions for military leave, and the Department of Labor publishes new FMLA regulations: Thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008, the FMLA now provides for additional unpaid leave for family members to care for a servicemember with a serious illness or injury suffered in the line of duty, and for employees to take FMLA leave for certain emergencies stemming from a family members’ active duty. In a few weeks, the DOL’s regulations interpreting these new provisions and reinterpreting the original FMLA will go into effect. Covered employers will have to re-learn the FMLA in light of these new regulations, which, while being employer-friendly, significantly change how the FMLA operates. An already confusing statute is going to become that much more confusing, at least in the short-term.