In some ways it seemed like 2008, with its crashing waves of bad economic news, would never end. Now that we're 5 days into 2009 employers and HR professionals, still confronted with hard economic times, face the important new challenges established by Congress. Here's a succinct summary from the Connecticut Employment Law Blog.
It looks like the new ADA Amendments Act (get used to seeing and saying "ADAA") will be the 800 pound gorilla of employment law for the foreseeable future. John Phillips of The Word on Employment Law has an interesting post that suggests that with the ADAA Congress has intentionally undone many if not most of the restrictions placed on the old ADA by the Supreme Court. John's theory, and if I can be allowed a bit of editorial license, his fear, is that an enormous percentage of American workers are now, as of January 1, 2009, considered to be legally disabled. There's a lot that employers need to be prepared to deal with. As John aptly points out, in 2008 employers could take some comfort in the fact that employees who claimed to be disabled at least had to prove their disability. In 2009 it looks like the tables have been turned and employers will have to assume that the employee is disabled.
We won't know the full impact of the ADAA until courts start to decide cases, and that won't happen for some time. But it looks like Congress has left the courts less wiggle room this time, so it may be unreasonable to expect significant restrictions on ADAA coverage.
Employers need to be prepared. Period. ‘Nuf said.