Recent Developments in ADA Law

March 10, 2009 Advisory

ADA Amendments Act of 2008
On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADAAA") into law. The ADAAA, w hich took effect on January 1, 2009, implements considerable and meaningful changes to the current interpretation and application of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").
Congress enacted the ADA in 1990 to "provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities." The ADA defines a "disability" as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. Beginning in the late 1990's, the U.S. Supreme Court, concerned that the ADA's coverage would be broader than Congress had intended, decided a series of cases that narrowly construed the scope of the ADA's definition of disability and limited the range of impairments that qualified for ADA protection. The focus of most litigation under the ADA then became whether an individual's impairment was limiting enough to meet the narrow definition of "disability" as interpreted by the Supreme Court. As a result, it became increasingly difficult for individuals to invoke the ADA.