On March 25, 2011, final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) were published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While the ADAAA retains the ADA's definition of "disability," the law significantly alters how the term is interpreted. These final regulations implement those changes.
In almost every instance, the ADAAA broadens the scope of the term "disability." For instance:
- An impairment need not prevent, or significantly or severely restrict, performance of a major life activity to be "substantially limiting"
- Disability "shall be construed in favor of broad coverage" and "should not demand extensive analysis"
- An individual's ability to perform a major life activity is compared to "most people in the general population," often using a common-sense analysis without scientific or medical evidence
- An impairment need not substantially limit more than one major life activity
In addition, the term "major life activity" has been expanded to include:
- Major bodily functions: functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, special sense organs and skin, genitourinary, and cardiovascular systems, and reproductive functions
- Major life activities: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, sitting, reaching, interacting with others, and working
These final regulations should be carefully reviewed prior to proceeding with any employment action in the case of an employee who may have a disability.
Click here to read the final regulations.