Here’s a reassuring message: New looser disability definitions don’t apply to cases brought before January 1 of his year.
Congress this year passed the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) in response to several Supreme Court decisions that narrowly interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act rules. The ADAAA greatly broadened the standards for what counts as a disability — and also increased the odds of companies facing more and more accommodation requests.
That possibility still exists, of course. But after a recent federal court ruling, at least you can be sure the new regs aren’t retroactive. That means employers won’t have to weather a deluge of cases from employees whose suits were dismissed under the old rules.
The recent decision came out of a case involving an employee of a sewer district who filed an ADA suit after his termination. The man claimed he should have been offered an accommodation because he was disabled; a lower court dismissed his suit.
In his appeal, the man claimed his case should be reconsidered using the new disability definitions.
The judge said no. If Congress had intended the law to be retroactive, it wouldn’t have specified a date — Jan. 1, 2009 — when the measure would become effective.
Cite: Lytes v. DC Water and Sewer, U.S. Circuit Crt. DC, No. 08-7002, 7/21/09.