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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Senate unanimously passes amendments to ADA

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed the ADA Amendments Act (S. 3406). It is similar to the bill the House passed 402-17 earlier this year. Given this widespread bipartisan support, it is likely that we might see the first Democratically-driven employment law changes before President Bush leaves office. By doing so, this President Bush would expand upon the law first enacted by his father in 1990.

The highlights of the bill defines "substantially limits" to mean "materially restricts," it specifies examples of major life activities, and expands upon them to include major bodily functions, and helps employers by exempting from "regarded as" claims transitory or minor impairments that last or are expected to last for 6 months or less.

The biggest changes, though, will come to the definition of "disability" itself. In Sutton v. United Airlines, the Supreme Court held that whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity is to be determined with reference to the effects of mitigating measures on the impairment. If this bill becomes law, it will reverse that ruling, and require the determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity to be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures.

[Hat tip: Workplace Horizons]

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