On Friday, March 28, 2014, DREDF submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008. The ADA Amendments Act (often called the ADAAA) was enacted to restore the broad scope of the ADA’s definition of “disability” in the wake of several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that had narrowly interpreted that definition in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The ADAAA confirms that Congress intended to include a wide range of physical disabilities, mental health disabilities, cognitive and learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, medical conditions and other impairments within the sweep of the ADA’s nondiscrimination protections. The Amendments emphasize that identifying “disability” should not require extensive analysis, and that primary attention should focus on whether entities required to comply with the ADA have meet their legal obligations.
The Amendments gave authority to both DOJ and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to issue regulations to implement the ADAAA. The EEOC has already completed its regulatory process (in which DREDF participated). The EEOC issued its final ADAAA regulations on March 25, 2011. Those regulations included strong, bipartisan provisions that are generally faithful to the ADAAA’s mandate for restoring broad definitional coverage.
DOJ issued its proposed ADAAA regulations on January 30, 2014. The proposal signals DOJ’s intention to generally track with the strong EEOC regulations.
There is a Monday, March 31, 2014, deadline to submit comments on the proposed DOJ ADAAA regulations. Interested members of the disability community are invited to cross-reference DREDF’s comments when submitting their own comments.