Human Resources
Thought Leadership

EEOC Issues Final Regulations Broadening the Definition of a "Disability"

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on March 25, 2011 issued final regulations that broaden the definition of a “disability.” The final regulations implement the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) (P.L. 110-325), which overturned several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that many believed interpreted the definition of “disability” too narrowly. The new regulations make it easier for an individual to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADAAA was enacted with bipartisan support and also with support from the business community and labor and consumer protection groups. According to the EEOC, the changes will make it “much easier for individuals seeking the law’s protection to demonstrate that they meet the definition of ‘disability’ and many more ADA claims will focus on the merits of the case.”

The ADAAA applies to all private, state, and local government employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees (“covered entities”). However, the law also applies to employers that are federal contractors or subcontractors and employers that receive federal financial assistance under the Rehabilitation Act regardless of employer size. Furthermore, the law applies to any business of any size that is considered a place of public accommodation with respect to the goods and services they provide to the public.

The ADAAA applies to discriminatory acts that occur on or after January 1, 2009. The final regulations will become effective on May 24, 2011.

The Aon Hewitt bulletin available below provides more information on the final regulations.

EEOC Issues Final Regulations Broadening the Definition of a "Disability"