The Amended Americans with Disabilities Act has greatly expanded the definition of “disability.” Under the ADAAA and its regulations, disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Under the amended Act, “Major life activities” include – caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, breathing, learning, and working. When in doubt, employers should assume that an employee is disabled.
Once you have determined that an employee is disabled under the ADAAA, the employer should initiate an interactive process to determine whether a reasonable accommodation is required and document the employee’s circumstances and the job requirements. During the interactive process the employer should work directly with the employee and attempt to determine whether there are any reasonable accommodations that would allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. While the employer is generally not required to alter the essential functions of the job to meet the employee’s needs, all reasonable accommodations should be considered. The employer actively should seek input from the employee regarding potential reasonable accommodations.