On August 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a final rule to amend its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which had taken effect on January 1, 2009. According to a press release issued by the DOJ,
Congress passed the ADAAA in response to several Supreme Court decisions that narrowly interpreted the ADA’s definition of disability, leading ultimately to the exclusion from coverage of individuals with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities and other disabilities.
The new final rule states that the ADAAA was intended
to restore the understanding that the definition of “disability” shall be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis. Congress intended that the primary object of attention in cases brought under the ADA should be whether covered entities have complied with their statutory obligations not to discriminate based on disability.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, emphasized this point in a press release, stating:
This final rule clarifies Congress’s original mandate that eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities requires an expansive definition of what disability means and who the law covers. The Justice Department’s regulation sets forth clear new rules, new examples and detailed guidance to ensure that courts, covered entities and people with disabilities better understand the ADAAA.
The final rule published on August 11, 2016 takes effect October 11, 2016.