Legal Alert: ADAAA Legislative History Provides Possible Clue to New "Disability" Definition


One definition of the term "disability" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) retains the same wording of that definition, but makes clear that the courts' and the EEOC's interpretations of the term "substantially limited" as requiring that an individual prove that he or she is "significantly restricted" in a major life activity, or words to that effect, impose too high of a standard for proving that an individual is disabled. Unfortunately, the ADAAA does not set forth a new standard, but instead requires the EEOC to issue new regulations doing so. With the January 1, 2009 effective date of the statute rapidly approaching, employers are understandably anxious for guidance on the issue.

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