Wednesday, June 25, 2008

House Overwhelmingly Passes ADA Amendments Act

While I was driving my kids from St. Louis to Chicago today, the House of Representatives passed the ADA Amendments Act by a vote of 402-17. From Robert Pear's typically great article in the NY Times:

The bill, approved 402 to 17, would make it easier for workers to prove discrimination. It would explicitly relax some stringent standards set by the court and says that disability is to be “construed broadly,” to cover more physical and mental impairments.

Supporters of the proposal said it would restore the broad protections that Congress meant to establish when it passed the Americans With Disabilities Act that President George Bush signed in 1990.

Lawmakers said Wednesday that people with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and other ailments had been improperly denied protection because their conditions could be controlled by medication or were in remission. In a Texas case, for example, a federal judge said a worker with epilepsy could not be considered disabled because he was taking medications that reduced the frequency of seizures.

In deciding whether a person is disabled, the bill says, courts should generally not consider the effects of “mitigating measures” like prescription drugs, hearing aids and artificial limbs. Moreover, it adds, “an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.”

I know there's disappoinment in some quarters about this bill. But, while this bill doesn't do everything I would want it to do, it will go at least 80% of the way toward undoing the damage caused by restrictive Supreme Court and appellate court decisions. It will make a huge difference for a lot of people.

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Blogger Elizabeth said...

Great news! (And even though I'm not teaching Dis Rights this year, I'm thrilled the blog is back!)

3:28 PM  
Blogger James said...

For those interested, some of the problems with the lower court interpretations are analyzed in Ruth Colker's latest article.

5:38 PM  

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