Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do We Need a New Law to Protect Disabled Employees from Discrimination?

Last 25 June, the US House of Representatives approved an amendment to the ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The ADA is a law which prohibits “private employers, state and local governments and employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, or in the terms, conditions and privileges of employment.”

Also in places of public acomodation such as schools, restaurants, parks, etc.

This time, the law, termed the ADA Restoration Act of 2008, is born to restore the original intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

In order to give the law more tooth in preventing further discrimination of our disabled citizens, the law is amended to make clear the following, among others.

The ADA should be interpreted broadly to provide ample protection for people who experience disability discrimination.

Impairment that “substantially limits a major life activity, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working”, does not need to limit another major life activity to be considered a disability.”

An episodic impairment or impairment in remission is still a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when it is active.

It is improper to take into consideration most measures that would reduce the impact of impairment, such as medication, prosthetics, or other technology, when determining if an individual is disabled.

Employees are protected from discrimination if their employers discriminate them because they perceive the employee to have a disability, even in fact there was none.

The law is still “wait and see”, pending approval of the Senate and the signature of the President.