President Bush signed into law amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) that will clarify and expand the protections afforded to disabled individuals. The new law, entitled the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”), expressly overturns several landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions that narrowly interpreted the definition of “disability.” The enactment of the ADAAA will most likely make disposing of ADA cases prior to trial more challenging for employers. However, in some instances, providing accommodations will be less confusing for employers because the ADAAA has made clear that employers are not required to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals who are “regarded as” disabled, but not actually disabled. This is an issue over which the federal courts of appeals were previously split.
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