Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Restoration Act. Congressman Higgins is a cosponsor of the House version of the bill.
“Language in the original legislation has been misconstrued and along the way we have failed to fully meet the intent of prohibiting discrimination,” said Congressman Higgins. “The ADA Restoration Act closes the loopholes in the previous bill and provides Americans with Disabilities equal opportunities under the law.”
In 2004, plaintiffs lost 97% of ADA employment discrimination claims that went to trial, often due to the interpretation of definition of disability. The ADA Restoration Act makes changes to the ADA Act of 1990 to provide better protections for people with disabilities.
The ADA Restoration Act:
· Makes it clear that the ADA is intended to provide broad coverage to protect anyone facing discrimination on the basis of disability. Previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions have narrowed the definition so much so that people with serious conditions such as epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and cancer have been determined to not meet the definition of disability under the ADA.
· Prohibits the consideration of mitigation measures such as medication, prosthetics and assistive technology in determining whether an individual has a disability. In the past, individuals have actually lost discrimination claims merely because they take medication or use devices which mitigate the outward effects of their disability.
· Strikes a balance between employer and employee interests. Provides that reasonable accommodations are only required for individuals who can demonstrate or provide a record of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, rather than individuals simply “regarded as” having an impairment.
· Is supported by a broad coalition of almost 200 civil rights groups, disability advocates and employer trade organizations.
This Act was unanimously approved in the Senate on September 11, 2008. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.