The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently published its final rule revising the existing Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulations and interpretive guidance in light of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”). The new regulations take effect on May 24, 2011, significantly changing the legal landscape under the ADA by overturning a series of court decisions narrowly interpreting the definition of a disability. Its effect has been to expand the reach of the ADA, making it easier for individuals to establish the existence of a covered disability.
Because of the changes arising from the ADAAA and now the EEOC’s final regulations, employers should review and revise, if necessary, their ADA policies, procedures, and practices, especially as they relate to hiring, reasonable accommodation, medical leaves of absence, and workers’ compensation. Employers should develop and implement a process for handling reasonable accommodation requests, taking extra caution to ensure legal compliance. Lastly, and most important, employers should train supervisors and managers at all levels on the expanded scope of the ADA, as well as how to recognize and respond to requests for accommodations or other situations where accommodations may be appropriate.
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