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New Rules Accommodate Employees with Disabilities



The rights of employees with disabilities will be broadened when new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) go into effect May 24. The new regulations shift the emphasis from defining disabilities to making sure that employees with disabilities are accommodated within the workplace, experts say.

The ADAAA and these new regulations will make it much easier for employees claiming disability discrimination to advance their claims. Before the creation of ADAAA, the focus was on determining whether the employee making a claim had a qualified disability that substantially limited a major life activity.

These new rules closely follow legislation overturning several restrictive court decisions.

"The courts focused too much on who had a disability rather than on accommodating disabilities," Elizabeth Milito, a lawyer working for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) small business legal center, told BusinessNewsDaily. "The new rules favor broad coverage. Employers both large and small will have more employees who qualify as disabled ."

The intent of the new rules, she said, is not to clog the courtrooms with litigation, but rather to encourage employers to work with their employees to determine how their disabilities can be accommodated in the workplace. It will not cause massive upheaval for employers, because the regulations that such accommodation must be "reasonable in light of circumstances," Milito said.

"When it comes to small business, there will be a different standard than for a Marriott, for example," she said.