Bush signs Feldblum bill

by on September 25, 2008  •  In Congress, Employment law

OK – so that's not really the name of the bill.  Its real name is the ADA Amendments Act. But the President is set to sign it this morning.  And I'm taking the liberty of giving it my girlfriend's name because I know how many hours of work went into it — not just on her part, of course, but hey, this is my blog, so I get to play around with it.

The basic thrust of the bill is to reinstate coverage for certain groups of people with disabilities whose protection under the original ADA was essentially interpreted out of existence by the federal courts. For example, under the ADAAA, the use of medication and devices such as hearing aids cannot be used as the basis for ruling that the person does not have a disability. This reverses Sutton v United Airlines, 527 U.S. 471 (1999) (and two other cases), which held that persons who used mitigating measures no longer fell within the statute's definition of disabled, and so could be discriminated against based on their disability. (Alice in Wonderland, anyone?) The ADAAA will have a major impact on people with conditions for which medication and other treatments are available, such as epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and certain forms of mental illness.

In another change that I noted in a previous post, people with HIV/AIDS will be among those helped by a clarification that impairments to the functioning of the immune system are included in the definition of what constitutes "a major life activity." The ADAAA adds several other physiological functions to the explicit statutory language as well, such as the endocrine and neurological systems. Moreover, the new law rejects the "strict and demanding" standard set by the Supreme Court for defining the phrase "substantially limits" as applied to major life activities.

The ADAAA will have a broadly beneficial effect. Although I am highlighting the ramifications for people with HIV/AIDS because this blog is focused on issues related to sexuality, its scope is much more capacious.

The new amendments take effect next January 1. For further details, see the comprehensive ArchiveADA web site.


3 Responses to Bush signs Feldblum bill

  1. Karla D. September 25, 2008 at 12:53 PM


  2. Nancy Polikoff September 25, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    If you really want to give her credit, how about her whole name and a link to her website? So thank you, Chai Feldblum, and check her out at link to law.georgetown.edu

  3. Minna Kotkin September 26, 2008 at 5:25 AM

    Yeah Chai and Nan (for support and endurance)

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