New ADA Regulations Issued: EEOC Rules Mean Virtually Everyone Is Disabled

 (This posting was written by the law firm Seyfarth Shaw)

 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s long-awaited regulations under the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”) has been issued. The regulations will become effective on May 24, 2011. Much of the new regulations and accompanying guidance is unsurprising and comports with the language of the ADAAA. For example: the statute is to be construed broadly; employers should focus on accommodations, as opposed to questioning whether someone is disabled; and mitigating measures including medicine, other treatments, and prosthetic devices must be set aside in analyzing whether an individual is “disabled.”

 What is surprising, and doubtless game-changing, is the agency’s decision to list conditions that, according to the EEOC, will “virtually always” be covered impairments. The EEOC says those impairments are not per se disabilities, as it must if the new regulations are to resemble the original statute. Yet, by characterizing listed conditions as “virtually always” covered, the agency has in effect labeled tens of millions of Americans disabled.

 The EEOC did not stop there. Rejecting the views of business organizations and employment attorneys, the EEOC has made clear that any impairment – no matter how brief in duration – can be a covered disability. By those changes and others, the EEOC’s new regulations will further burden employers, not only with compliance challenges but also litigation that will inevitably follow the EEOC’s expansive approach.



Filed under Compliance, Employee Relations, Management

3 responses to “New ADA Regulations Issued: EEOC Rules Mean Virtually Everyone Is Disabled

  1. To the law firm Seyfarth Shawt

    Your position seems to be one of cost for providing universal access and adaptive means. Otherwise, I do not see why recognizing human limitations, be they temporary or permanent, is alarming. I believe this to be an indisputable fact of life. If I am in error of your position, as well may be the case, I beg your pardon.

    I agree completely that to require universal access and adaptive means has now a required cost without funding in many instances. However, this is not the argument I see being put forth but implied.

    If the value of the individual exceeds the cost to accommodate, then this is a win-win. However, if the value of the individual and the cost to accommodate is an unknown then, for the P&L we should be allowed to discriminate. Is that a right understanding of your position?

    I take exception to this position, precisely because of its demoralizing dictum. Would we begrudge FDR, Helen Keller, celebrated and uncelebrated war veterans, family, friends we know and friends we have yet to know because of profit and loss statements? I believe the argument comes from a place of scarcity, perhaps fear and indifference, but is paraded as an unjust burden due to lack of funding to level the playing field.

    This is looking at the symptom of a broken, ill funded system and not the cause. When determining what to do, it would appear to start with “what” is. The “what” is, in this situation, is as a whole we are subject to limitations.

    An ill funded system looks to distract attention from itself and cause division among its members so as to appear “able” and noble, while placing the cost of nobility onto another’s shoulders. I get that. However, I do not believe in the profit/loss agenda.

    It is time to step outside of that box and commit to we can and will do better to solve these injustices to the un-accommodated less able and the fiscal inequity of those who employ “all others”.

    History’s greatest chapters are dotted with trust when there is a must because it was essential to that which makes us most human, most alive. What would happen if we saw all others as a must and figured out how to solve from that vantage point?

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