Improving the Americans with Disabilities Act

By June 25, 2008Human Resources

The House has started debating H.R. 3195, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments (first the rule, then the bill itself). After months of work by legislators, their staffs, disability advocates and business groups, a good piece of legislation has emerged, one that reaffirms the intent of the original ADA to protect the disabled, prevent discrimination, and at the same time, does not impose unattainable goals and burdens on business.

The NAM was proud to have participated in the discussions that have produced the House bill. We sent a letter to House Leadership on Monday emphasizing our support. (Copy here.) The key provisions:

  • Clarify Coverage: clarifies that Congress intended the ADA’s coverage to be broad and
    makes clear the obligations and requirements of employers to cover anyone who faces
    unfair discrimination because of a disability.
  • Define Disability: retains the requirement that an individual’s impairment substantially limit
    a major life activity in order to be considered a disability, and an individual must demonstrate
    that he or she is qualified for the job.
  • Protect for Mitigating Measures: overturns several court decisions to provide that people
    with disabilities not lose their coverage under the ADA simply because their condition is
    treatable with medication or can be addressed with the help of assistive technology.
  • Recognize Perceived Disabilities: includes a “regarded as” prong as part of the definition
    of disability, which covers situations where an employee is discriminated against because of
    his or her actual or perceived impairment. Moreover, the proposal makes it clear that
    accommodations do not need to be made to someone who is disabled solely because he or
    she is “regarded as” disabled.

NAM President John Engler NAM Executive Vice President Jay Timmons will be on the Hill later this afternoon participating in a news conference with supporters, starting with the bill’s sponsor, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). More later…

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