Q. When do we have to start paying attention to the final regulations implementing the ADAAA?
A. In September 2009, the EEOC published proposed regulations implementing the ADAAA, which makes it easier for individuals to establish they are disabled. On March 25, 2011, the EEOC published final regulations implementing the ADAAA in the Federal Register. The final regulations became effective on May 24.
Q. How do the regulations affect what are considered "major life activities"?
A. The ADAAA provides a list of major life activities, which include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. The regulations include other examples that include sitting, reaching, and interacting with others.
The regulations also provide that major life activities include the operation of major bodily functions, which include special sense organs, skin, genitourinary, cardiovascular, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, immune, digestive, endocrine, respiratory, circulatory, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain and reproductive functions.
Finally, the regulations provide that determining whether an activity is a “major life activity” does not depend on whether it is of “central importance to daily life.”
Q. Do the regulations provide examples of impairments that usually constitute a disability?
A. Yes. The regulations state that there will be some impairments that virtually always constitute a disability. The regulations also provide examples of impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities, such as epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, HIV infection and bipolar disorder.
Q. Can an impairment that is episodic be considered a disability?
A. The regulations provide that an impairment that is episodic is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
Examples of episodic impairments include epilepsy, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Note: For more on the new ADAAA regulations, see www.theHRSpecialist.com/adaaarules.