The Department of Justice published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking today intended to revise the department’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II and Title III regulations to implement the requirements of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). Congress passed the ADAAA in response to several Supreme Court decisions that had narrowly interpreted the ADA’s definition of disability. The ADAAA made a number of significant changes to the ADA definition of disability to ensure that it would be easier for individuals seeking the protection of the ADA to establish that they have a disability that falls within the meaning of the statute.
“The narrow interpretation of the ADA’s definition of disability resulted in the denial of the law’s protection for many individuals with impairments such as cancer, diabetes and epilepsy who had been the subject of adverse actions due to their disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The ADAAA and our proposed regulations properly place the focus of ADA cases on whether a covered entity has complied with its obligations and whether discrimination occurred, and not on whether the person has a disability.”
The ADAAA’s revised definition of disability applies to Title I, which deals with employment, as well as to Titles II and III of the ADA. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is responsible for developing regulations that implement Title I of the ADA, published its revised Title I regulation incorporating the ADAAA in March 2011. The department has made every effort to ensure that its proposed revisions to the Title II and Title III regulations are consistent with, if not identical to, the corresponding provisions in the Title I regulation. This will ensure that the definition of disability is interpreted consistently for all three titles of the ADA.
The comment period for the proposed rule closes on March 31, 2014. For more information about the ADAAA and to comment on the proposed rule, please visit www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/01/30/2014-01668/office-of-the-attorney-general-amendment-of-americans-with-disabilities-act.