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New Proposed ADA Regulations Finally Available for Download

Posted in CHRO & EEOC, Discrimination & Harassment, Laws and Regulations

Nearly a week after voting to approve proposed regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act, the actual text of the proposed regulations is finally trickling out on the internet.  You can download a copy here.  (Thanks to HRHero for posting them.)

At 93 pages long, there’s a lot to digest. I’ll have a more thorough post up this week. (And on October 14th at noon EDT, I’ll be presenting a webinar on the subject — save the date!).

Besides the actual text of the regulations, the comments to the regulations contains some interesting observations or notes. Upon my first glance at both, here are some things that have jumped out (in no particular order):

  • The comments to the regulations suggest that "Many of the individuals actually brought within the new definition of “disability” are likely to have less severe limitations needing less extensive accommodations. Moreover, those brought within the new “regarded as” definition of “disability” are not entitled to accommodation at all." This confirms my thought that we’ll see more people who are now "disabled" under the ADAAA. 
  • The EEOC is still struggling with determining how much it costs to implement these regulations. For example, citing limited data, the EEOC has estimated that the mean cost of providing accommodations to disabled workers varies from about $460-$1430 per worker.
  • But in another place, the EEOC states "In a broad sense, even the initial passage of the ADA may not have significantly increased the cost of reasonable accommodation."  This seems like an odd assertion to make and I would not be surprised to see this language being focused on by companies challenging the scope of the new regulations.
  • The EEOC spends a great deal of time trying to support its conclusion that the new regulations are "very unlikely" to create annual costs exceeding $100 million per year. But the EEOC leaves the possibility of further revisions open if that hypothesis can be disproven.
  • The proposed regulations adopt the new statutory language regarding the broad definition of who is disabled and confirm — in the clearest language yet — that a diagnoses of diseases like diabetes will translate into a finding of disability. The EEOC gives this example:
    • An individual whose endocrine system is substantially limited due to diabetes need not also show that he is substantially limited in eating or any other major life activity.

HR Hero blog also summarizes the other areas that the new regulations cover including: 

  • discussing disabilities that are episodic or in remission, such as epilepsy, cancer, and many kinds of psychiatric impairments;
  • providing detailed information regarding the types of actions that will or will not constitute “regarded as” discrimination;
  • explaining how to determine whether impermanent impairments are disabilities.

Expect lots more about this in the days and weeks to come. The public has 60 days to comment on these proposed regulations. Final regulations would like occur during the first quarter of 2010.