The final ADAAA regulations are out – now what?
As many of you are aware, the long awaited Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) implementing regulations were published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and will become effective on May 24, 2011. More information about the regulations can be found in this alert recently issued by our Labor, Employment and Immigration Team. The new regulations, which are consistent with the ADAAA, significantly broaden the interpretation of “disability” and will undoubtedly affect how employers address workplace disability matters. To prepare for these changes we recommend taking the following steps:
- Adjust your analysis when evaluating disability matters. In light of the new regulations, most all impairments will amount to disabilities under the law, and an employer should no longer focus on whether a disability exists – it likely does. The focus should be shifted to whether the disability needs to be reasonably accommodated and/or whether an employment action is being administered fairly. As always, document the interactive process, and note when employees are being provided with accommodations.
- Review your disability accommodation and leave policies to ensure that the requirements of such policies will not interfere with your ability to comply with the revised regulations. Strict accommodation guidelines and/or limits on leaves of absences should be eliminated from employment policies as such limitations may be contrary to your obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, to provide a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability (which, again, is a much easier definition to meet).
- Train, train, train, and then train some more. The interpretation of “disability” under the revised law does not reflect the general population’s perception of the term. Accordingly, there is a significant risk that managers and decision-makers in your workforce will not recognize a disability accommodation request or will inadvertently consider a disability when making an employment decision. Management personnel must be trained to recognize such requests and to avoid making risky employment decisions.
The full alert regarding the new ADAAA regulations can be found here.