A disabled man is sitting in a wheelchair.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was a landmark piece of legislation that ensured disabled people would have the same rights as other people and established the groundwork for reasonable accommodations that must be in place to allow those with disabilities the access they need and the ability to function alongside everyone else.

Disability discrimination, however, remains a major problem, and just ten years ago, the ADA Amendments Act was passed by Congress to further strengthen the protections that people with disabilities have under the law. Learn about the ADA amendments that provide protections against disability discrimination and where to go if you need legal help in your case.

Expanding the Interpretation of Disability

The ADAAA has strengthened the protections of the ADA and is historically important in many ways. It overturns some decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, and clarifies the intent of Congress that employers and the courts need to broaden their interpretation of the term “disability.” As a result, more employees than ever are entitled to disability protections under the law, including reasonable accommodations by employers.

Major Life Activities

A core part of the ADA is the definition of a disability as something that limits a major life activity in a substantial way. The new amendment clarifies that even immune system functioning, respiratory systems, and the brain qualify as major life activities. This now includes many forms of early-stage cancer which did not earlier qualify.

Broadened Definition of Impairment

The definition of “impairment” has been broadened as well. Where before impairments had to be continuous, active and ongoing, now episodic impairments from cancer in remission to asthma can qualify as disabilities if when active they can impair a major life activity. Thus, if the possibility exists for you to have an asthma attack that would impair you in a serious way, then asthma counts as a disability at all times, not just when you have an attack.

Corrective Measures Don’t Count

One of the biggest protections afforded by the ADAAA is that an employer can no longer take corrective measures into consideration when determining an employee’s status as disabled. For example, an employee under drug treatments or using assistive devices to control their ailment could, in the past, be considered to no longer be disabled. This is no longer the case. Even if your condition is under control, your disability still qualified. The only exception to this are ordinary prescription contact lenses and glasses.

Clarifying Protections

The ADA protects those who have a disability now, those who have a history of having a disability, and those whose employers might perceive as having a disability. This clarification is important because in the past discrimination occurred based on negative assumptions and stereotypes. For example, the idea that everyone who has a mental illness is dangerous is an incorrect stereotype that is now protected under the ADAAA.

Disability Aid Help

If you’re experiencing disability discrimination and you need legal help in pursuing remedies, especially in seeking social security or other disability benefits, the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour can help. Give us a call for a free consultation today.