Monday, June 02, 2008

Latest news regarding ADA Restoration Act of 2007

There seems to be some stirring on the legal front regarding the ADA Restoration Act of 2007.

According to this Human Resources Executive Online article,
a compromise is in the works
between advocates for disability rights and the business community. These represent the two factions in the legal tug of war that has been going on in Congress as the lawmakers attempt to retool the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While the fine points are still subject to change, it is good to see that things are progressing. Two of the biggest sticking points for employers have been the language of the proposed change in defining the criteria for a qualified disability and the use of mitigating devices, such as hearing aids . I'm glad to see that these have apparently been worked out.

The following information is from the article:

The proposed language, which could still change, would redefine "disability" to be any actual, past or perceived physical or mental impairment that "substantially limits a major life activity" and then defines this phrase to mean "materially restricts a major life activity," according to details released by the American Association of People with Disabilities.

The proposal also includes a non-exhaustive list of covered major life activities, and defines the operation of major bodily functions as a covered major life activity.

According to the language released, the proposed compromise:

* States that mitigating measures should not be considered when determining whether an impairment materially restricts an individual's major life activity, including medical devices, assistive technology, behavior adaptations, reasonable accommodation or auxiliary aids. This would reverse the ruling in the Sutton vs. United Airlines decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that "mitigating measures" should be taken into account when determining whether a plaintiff is disabled.

* Excludes minor impairments and impairments with an actual or expected duration of six months or less as disabilities.

* States that employers would not need to provide reasonable accommodations to employees they regard as disabled.

* Includes a section with examples of major life activities such as caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. The high court, in Toyota vs. Williams, ruled a disability must "substantially limit [an individual's] daily life activities," not just abilities at work. The case involved the inability of an assembly worker with carpal tunnel syndrome to do her job.

Both Michael Layman, manager of employee and labor relations for the Society for Human Resources Management, and Michael Imparato, AAPD CEO and president, say technical details are still being worked out, but they are confident a compromise will be reached soon, possibly within two weeks.

"We know the clock is ticking and we want to move forward with a deal," Layman says. "We are close to coming up with a proposal that will be fair to both employers and employees."

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