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EEOC Publishing Notice of Proposed Rulemaking That Will Revise EEOC Regulations To Conform With The ADA Amendments Act of 2008

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will publish a proposed rule that would make several significant changes to the definition of the term "disability" under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The proposal would revise the EEOC's regulations to conform with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which makes it easier for individuals seeking protection under the ADA to establish that they have a disability. The proposed regulations include revised definitions of some key terms under the definition of "disability."

The EEOC will be publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this week and will be seeking public comment for 60 days.

In the NPRM, the EEOC will emphasize that:

  • The definition of disability--an impairment that poses a substantial limitation in a major life activity--must be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA, and should not require extensive analysis;
  • Major life activities include "major bodily functions";
  • That mitigating measures, such as medications and devices that people use to reduce or eliminate the effects of an impairment, are not to be considered when determining whether someone has a disability; and
  • Impairments that are episodic or in remission, such as epilepsy, cancer, and many kinds of psychiatric impairments, are disabilities if they would "substantially limit" major life activities when active.

The EEOC says the regulation also provides a more straightforward way of demonstrating a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working, and implements the ADAAA's new standard for determining whether someone is "regarded as" having a disability.

In addiiton, the proposed regulation identifies impairments that consistently will meet the definition of "disability:

  • Deafness,
  • Blindness,
  • Intellectual disability
  • Partially or completely missing limbs,
  • Mobility impairments requiring use of a wheelchair (a mitigating measure),
  • Autism,
  • Cancer,
  • Cerebral palsy,
  • Diabetes,
  • Epilepsy,
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • Muscular dystrophy,
  • Major depression,
  • Bipolar disorder,
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder,
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and
  • Schizophrenia.

Note: The list isn't an exhaustive one, so examples not listed in the proposed regulation could still consistently meet the definition of disability.

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