The ADAAA Expands Definition of Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), was enacted five years ago with the goal of strengthening and broadening the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which made it illegal to discriminate against workers with disabilities. The ADA/ADAAA prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability” in the terms and conditions of employment.” The ADA also prohibits disability harassment and retaliation against you for complaining about disability discrimination or for participating in someone else’s disability discrimination case.

Many believed that the ADA as originally enacted had too narrowly interpreted what it means to have a disability. As such, when the ADAAA became law in 2008, legislators intended to expand the definition of “disability” and shift the ADAAA’s focus onto whether employers of “qualified individuals” have fulfilled their obligations. These efforts have mostly been effective, what constitute a disability for the purposes of the ADA in legal terms has increased.

If you believe you may have suffered disability discrimination at work, it’s a good idea to consult an Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer right away.

Generally a disability is considered to be “a substantial limitation on a major life activity.” This is a legal definition – and includes conditions such as cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and psychiatric conditions. This means that employers must take steps to reasonably accommodate qualified individuals who suffer from these conditions.

One of the more notable implications of the ADAAA has been that employers must address one of the most significant practical implications of the ADAAA for employers has been the need to consider and address many more requests for various types of workplace reasonable accommodations than in the past.

According to one observer, the ADAAA “vastly improved the ADA’s protections for people with disabilities,” because courts generally “are spending far less time parsing the details of plaintiffs’ disabilities to determine whether they are sufficiently impaired to be deserving of legal protections.”

One issue that continues to evolve is the appropriately determining the essential functions of a disabled worker’s job in order to determine whether he or she is considered qualified. If the worker does not meet the qualified standard, then ADAAA protections do not apply.

If you have questions about the ADAAA or believe that you may have suffered disability discrimination at work, please contact the experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.