The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the ADA Amendments Act, H.R. 3195, by a vote of 402-17. The bill would amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and reject several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have narrowed the scope of the ADA’s protection. If enacted, the bill would be effective January 1, 2009.

The intent of the bill is to restore the broad scope of protection available under the ADA.  The legislation includes the following key provisions:

  • The definition of disability is to be construed broadly.
  • Clarifies the definition of “disability” by:
    • Defining “substantially limits” to mean materially restricts (rather than the current standard of prevents or severely restricts);
    • Defining “major life activity” broadly and including within that definition “major bodily functions”;
    • Clarifying that an impairment substantially limits one major life activity does not have to limit any other major life activities;
    • Clarifying that impairments that are episodic or in remission are disabilities if they would substantially limit a major life activity when active;
    • Prohibiting consideration of the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures in determining whether an individual has a disability; 
    • Stating that an individual does not have to establish that the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity under “regarded as” disabled provisions. 
  • Provides that employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are “regarded as” disabled.

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